eBay have apparently cancelled a load of fairly innocuous listings for Christmas themed clothing because the listings had the words “Gay Interest” in the item titles. eBay assured the seller that they had no problem with the actual items (e.g. a Rudolph wearing a rainbow scarf), but that saying they were of gay or lesbian interest breaches . (This appears to have been a mistake – see ‘edited to add’ comment from eBay below)
eBay told the seller that they’re cracking down on on such terms saying “There has been a trend of adult or fetish themed used clothing items being listed on the site; these items are not a positive reflection on eBay or our member community“. They added “I’d request you to avoid words like “Gay Interest, Scally” in your listings. You item is perfectly fine, you may relist it without such words in your listing“.
This creates a bit of a dilemma, on the one hand eBay don’t have an adult category in the UK (they do on eBay.com), but for many years all sorts of items from gimp masks to bondage gear have been sold and still are sold on eBay UK anyway. Apparently that’s fine, but not if they’re of gay or lesbian interest and definitely not if it’s as innocent as a t-shirt.
Now that now eBay appear to be tightening up on the use of the words “Gay interest” (or other similar terms), how will gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people find the items that they’re looking for? If you particularly want a gay interest Christmas t-shirt surely that is what you’d expect to search for? If sellers can’t include those key words you’ll probably assume there are none for sale. The presumption is that “gay interest” describes predominantly sexual or adult items. And that clearly is not and accurate assumption.
It’s not even that eBay don’t want the items sold, if you’re searching for a Christmas t-shirt you may well see gay interest shirts in your search results so the items themselves will still be seen. You just won’t be able to specifically search for gay interest items if that’s what you want.
If you are in the market for a gay interest Christmas t-shirt or sweater we suggest you visit the Pretty Pink Pearl website direct, they’ve got them in stock ready to sell. I’m not gay, but I’m tempted to buy one just because they’re cute!
Edited to add: eBay have been in touch and thankfully it’s all a mistake. They told us:
“eBay is a marketplace for everyone and we would never want to discriminate against any customer.
To keep eBay a great place to shop, our listings have to follow certain rules and accurately describe the item for sale.
We welcome listings using ‘gay’ as a factual item description, for example ‘gay literature’ or an item with a gay character.
We don’t allow use of the term ‘gay’ as a marketing term to imply a sexual aspect to an item, and this listing was mistakenly identified as such by our system. We will contact the seller to put it right.“