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Can Google get foreign countries to embrace gay rights?

The internet giant is launching a global "Legalize Love" campaign for gay rights, but skeptics wonder if Singapore and Poland are really the best places to start

Google is pretty outspoken in its support for gay rights in the U.S., and now the web giant is taking its campaign worldwide, lobbying to changing hearts and minds in "countries with anti-gay laws on the books." Google announced its "Legalize Love" campaign at a Global LGBT Workplace Summit in London, and will begin by focusing on Singapore and Poland, where it will develop partnerships with local companies and organizations to urge pro-gay-rights grassroots campaigns. Anna Peirano at 429 Magazine, who first reported on the campaign, described it as an effort to legalize gay marriage, but Google says it's actually a broader initiative to "decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia" in every country where the search giant operates. Google wants its gay, lesbian, and transgender employees "to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office," Google's Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe said at the London summit. "It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work." But could the "do no evil" company's push actually work?

If anyone can pull this off, it's Google: "Having lived in both Singapore and Poland, I feel sure that Google's task in each country will not be easy," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News. But that doesn't mean it's futile. For instance, I can imagine the "highly intelligent, rational, (and very well-paid) minds that run" Singapore being persuaded by Google's argument — and the lucrative business that Google and its "Legalize Love" partners can bring. Never forget: "Money is power, and power can change things.""Google to governments: Legalize gay marriage"

No way, meddling liberals: Google is trying to promote this as a pro-business initiative, but does anyone really think its "primary reason for this action is financial rather than socio-political?" asks William Bigelow at Big Journalism. Of course not. This is a naked test of Google's power, couched in its fealty to the gay community. And this could backfire. "The internet behemoth may find that other companies that compete with it might be able to get a toehold by sticking with traditional values.""Google pushes for gay marriage worldwide"

Either way, other firms could learn from Google's example: Whether or not you agree with Google's pro-gay-rights policy goals, you should admire its careful wielding of corporate power, says Matt Watson at the Chicago Phoenix. Most companies that want to change laws dump cash on politicians, but instead of feeding this toxic "borderline corruption," Google is "developing alliances with local companies and supporting grassroots campaigns." These heart-and-minds efforts "may take a little longer," but they're the only way for a company to affect change without poisoning democracy."Google sets precedent fighting to 'Legalize Love'"

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