A group of LGBTQ+ YouTubers are suing YouTube for discrimination

15 August 2019, 17:22 | Updated: 15 August 2019, 17:25

YouTube on a phone, Chase Ross on YouTube.
YouTube on a phone, Chase Ross on YouTube. Picture: NurPhoto/Contributor, uppercaseCHASE1 via YouTuber

By Jazmin Duribe

The YouTubers claim YouTube has been wrongly demonetising their videos.

Despite the existence of famous YouTubers like James Charles and Jeffree Star, YouTube has received backlash over its treatment of LGBTQ+ creators for years. Now a group of LGBTQ+ YouTubers are suing the video sharing website and its parent company Google for allegedly discriminating against them.

The YouTubers claim YouTube has made it hard for them to reach a wider audience and therefore they're messing with their ability to make money from the platform.

READ MORE: 14-year-old right-wing YouTuber Soph banned from platform for hate speech

According to the lawsuit, YouTube algorithms label LGBTQ+ content as "inappropriate" and "sexually explicit", which means that the videos get demonetised, or aren't eligible for paid advertising.

Watch the video here.

YouTubers Celso Dulay and Chris Knight, who front Glitter Bomb TV, told Buzzfeed News that they tried to buy advertising for a special holiday episode of their show in 2016 but a Google employee told them that their video had been flagged for explicit content because they mentioned "the gay thing".

"There's nothing sexual about the show," Chris told the publication. "It’s a news show."

Chase Ross.
Chase Ross. Picture: uppercaseCHASE1 via YouTube

A transgender YouTuber named Chase Ross claims that his videos have been systematically demonetised or been categorised as restricted because he is transgender.

"This is about making sure we’re not censored as a community," Ross told Forbes. "The lawsuit is about making sure we’re not censored as a community. I found YouTube at 15 and it saved my life. I hear from people every day that they want to make a channel but they’re afraid of getting their content restricted, and it breaks my heart."

Sadly, it was a similar scenario for YouTubers Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers. The couple accused YouTube of demonising and restricting their videos too, removing their thumbnails and subscribers, which meant their revenue plummeted from $3,500 to just $500 a month.

Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers.
Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers. Picture: uppercaseCHASE1 via YouTube

Meanwhile non-binary YouTuber Lindsay Amer, who runs the channel Queer Kids Stuff, said that YouTube failed to block anti-LGBTQ+ hate in the comment section of her videos. It became so bad that Lindsay had to disable comments on the videos, which they say contributed to their income drying up.

The group are hoping that the lawsuit will force YouTube to address what they've been complaining about for years.

Lindsay Amer.
Lindsay Amer. Picture: uppercaseCHASE1 via YouTube

And in response to the claims, a YouTube spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that their policies are not target LGBTQ+ content.

"We’re proud that so many LGBTQ creators have chosen YouTube as a place to share their stories and build community," YouTube representative Alex Joseph said. "All content on our site is subject to the same policies.

"Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like 'gay' or 'transgender.'

"In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech, and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly."