LGBTQ YouTubers file discrimination lawsuit, say leaders just paying 'lip service' to concerns

Key Points
  • YouTube users filed a class action complaint against the company for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ users.
  • In the complaint, plaintiffs call executives' apologies "lip service."
  • This comes after months of growing concern about right-wing favoritism on the platform.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks during the opening keynote address at the Google I/O 2017 Conference at Shoreline Amphitheater on May 17, 2017 in Mountain View, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Several LGBTQ YouTube creators are criticizing executives' promises and apologies "lip service" in a new class action complaint.

"Whatever promises, apologies, and misunderstanding explanations Google/YouTube has given to the LGBTQ+, they were and continue to be 'lip service' as described by one LGBTQ+ YouTuber following his meeting with YouTube's management in 2017," the suit states. "Instead of fixing the problems, Defendants Google/YouTube have doubled down on their anti-LGBTQ+ animus and discrimination that now pervades the platform."

The complaint, which accuses YouTube of discrimination and fraud, includes eight plaintiffs who have their own channels about the LGBTQ community and have thousands of subscribers. They are seeking unspecified restitution and damages.

YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It's part of an ongoing chain of criticism directed at YouTube, which most analysts believe contributes at least $15 billion a year to Google's revenues. Over the last year, YouTube has faced backlash for its vague policies, including when it suspended the monetization of a popular conservative creator Steven Crowder hours after defending him. Crowder harassed people of minority groups including gay journalist Carlos Maza.

CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBTQ community at a tech conference but stood by her decision to host homophobic slurs. That motivated Google and YouTube employees to organize a protest march against the company in the annual Gay Pride Parade.

In an interview last week, Wojcicki again tried assuring creators she and company leaders cared about the LGBTQ community by speaking with YouTuber Alfie Deyes who appeared skeptical of the company's decision-making process. That same week, The Washington Post reported that the company made exceptions to its policies for popular conservative creators.

In the complaint, plaintiffs allege YouTube favors popular right-wing YouTube stars and pointed to a Brazil-based YouTube star who, like Crowder, reportedly made a profit from videos that contained homophobic slurs and conspiracy theories. The plaintiffs on the case include Chase Ross, whose videos like "How to come out" and "Trans 101" have drawn in 164,235 subscribers.

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