back to article Gumtree comes over all queer in blocking 'offensive language'

Online small adster Gumtree appears to be a bit squeamish about ads containing words such as "queer". In the week that New Labour set out to advance the cause of equality in the UK with a dubious Equality Bill removing a number of existing rights from gay and religious groups, Gumtree demonstrated its solidarity with the cause …


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  1. lpopman

    titular wording

    Why can't they be more niggardly with the publics money, and stop this ghey policing of words

  2. rickykemp

    common sense....

    prevails, most surely?

    i don't see anything wrong with not allowing a job advert to highlight the personal leanings of the employer- i would suggest that if the employer put that they were 'straight and able-bodied' the ad would have been rejected.

    in providing 'details' of the person placing the ad, they are indirectly discriminating against certain groups of people in that people who do not belong to particular groups won't be inclined to apply for the position.

  3. Ol'Peculier

    In that case...

    My ad for a match placed between Scunthorpe and Arsenal would be rejected...

  4. Anonymous Coward


    It's just a word, same a lots of other words!

    Where the problem starts is the context that the word is used in. Queer and gay are just words, what has changed is the context they are used in now. They more often than not are used in a context, by homosexuals to describe themselves. Gay is a female name as well meaning happy. Queer just means out of place. I can say my broken old Mini Metro looks queer next to a long line of Rolls Royce's!

    Yes there are some words that have only one, derogatory meaning. The N-word, springs immediately to mind. That is one word that was invented to be abusive, and did need to be eradicated.

    Political Correctness is great when used sensibly, it has seen many great changes that have helped everyone to be a hell of a lot more tolerant of those different from others. What has happened is that these PC morons have decided that everything, no matter what, is a sensitive issue and needs to removed before someone is offended!

  5. David 39

    How Queer[1]

    It is that the standards of English are deteriorating due to people being very sensitive about words. I am no longer gay[2] with all the red tape in this country people should just get over it.

    Also with knowing homosexual[3] people they quite often call each other queers.

    [1] Actually means strange/odd

    [2] Actually means happy/carefree

    [3] Actually means likes a bit of bum fun

  6. Dave 62


    Ah, so homosexuality is a "kink" now is it?

    Sounds to me like "an academic" is a bit of a moron not capable of making any worthwhile contribution to society.

    Queory? You couldn't.. I don't know.. be a cosmetics guinea pig?

    1. Baying Lynch Mob

      semantics and context

      ``What has happened is that these PC morons have decided that everything, no matter what, is a sensitive issue and needs to removed before someone is offended!''

      What has probably happened is that somewhere down the line there's an incomplete understanding of the set of considerations that you dismiss as "Political Correctness": An admin has grasped that there are *some* contexts in which saying "queer", or one of several other words, is inappropriate, and has either applied a ban on it across the board regardless of context, or written a filter that does the same.

      So it's not necessarily idiocy - it could be laziness, or (more likely) lack of time to do the job properly.

    2. twiggystardust

      @David 39

      Er, I am a homosexual female and at no time do I partake in any 'bum fun'. Generalisation much?!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    That's the least of their problems

    Gumtree is a joke, it's full of scams and spam.

    There isn't a genuine entry in the personals, I emailed gumtree suggesting they implement a capture to stop the automated crap and got a very snotty email back about a week later saying that there wasn't a problem. Any advert you email will get you a very fast response inviting you to view their full profile on (insert various pay-for site here), followed by spam. Luckily I was only doing it to prove a point and had created a sacrificial hotmail account.

    As for products for sale, wait for a new item to be announced, then check on gumtree the next day, there are people selling them way below the RRP, even though the product isn't actually available for another 2 months! No idea what those are, but many other items that are actually available are advertised at ridiculously low prices. I saw a Nikon D300 up for £500 earlier this year, which is about half it's value.

    Again, no idea what the trick was there, but I'd almost bet you'd get mugged, or conned off with an empty box if you went to pick it up.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    'scuse me?

    S28 of the bill:

    A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the

    public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate

    against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the


    Which is 'interesting' for all of those who fix computers and are legally obliged to discriminate against holders of certain types of writing or photographs they may come across. Oh, and if service providers can't discriminate then all the noise about broadband disconnection goes out of the windows, as does the right of the barman to not serve someone who has had a few too many but requires serving ...... and where does it leave the policeperson who has to discriminate against the guy with the AK47 and the guy with a banana when deciding who to arrest after a shooting?

    Could the MPs who support this bill please get back to ripping people off and stop trying to look clever? At least the first pastime helps third-home-owners in Southampton, ducks, the porn industry, etc; the second, from this bill, helps no-one whatsoever. If it does help someone, it doesnt help everyone, so some people are being discriminated against by the service-providing MPs who vote in favour .....

  9. jake Silver badge

    Deja vue all over again ...

    "As a long-standing term of anti-gay abuse, "queer" is most definitely out. Or at least it was, until certain more militant elements within the gay rights movement set out to reclaim it – in much the same way as some black rights activists have sought to reclaim the N-word."

    Good gawd/ess. I must be in a time warp ... Surely that was the 1960s (here in the US), and the late 1970s over in Blighty? The married gay guys on the property adjacent to my wife's rose garden are going to giggle at the "provincial Brits" when I point this one out ;-)

  10. Lawrence 7

    Bootnote is Highly offensive

    It sickens me every time I read your otherwise excellent articles and I find your 'bootnote' at the bottom of the page.

    Do you not realise how offensive this term is for technical authors, writers, secretaries and other members of the community who on a daily basis contribute to articles or publications by creating marginal notes, annotations, comments & digressions in order to add richness and further depth to the main article?

    As a Reader I find this term highly offensive and cannot believe you would write a piece about the offensiveness of language and not even consider your actions when using the term 'Bootnote' which is derogatory and undermines the value of yourself and fellow marginal note practitioners.

    This type of flippant use of language contributes to hate and a secular society. And possibly global warming and fundamental extremism within the writing classes.

  11. Paul 190
    Thumb Down

    Care to explain why?

    The tone of the article is pretty hypocritical considering you were willing to write "queer" but then referred to "the N-Word"?

  12. Roger Jenkins


    This has all got very silly. I am an ex-patriot Brit living in Australia, as I have for nearly 40 years. Here it is very common to be described as a Pommy Bastard. For most of the time this is meant tongue in cheek, is not said in an offensive way and no offence is taken. Once, just once a person called me a Pommy Bastard, I could almost see the vitriol dribbling down their chin. I was offended.

    If I describe a person as Gay (sometimes I really do mean happy), it is never used to decry their sexuality and I don't think most people who use the term do either. It's just a common usage descriptive of a person with alternative sexuality. Black people are indeed black, white people are white, gay people are homosexual, a negro is negroid. Where does this politically correct end for goodness sakes. Some people seem to get offended if you say 'hello', are we to be stopped from saying that too.

    We can't speak to kids, we have to let doors slam in women's faces, we can't stand for a woman, we can't describe a white person as white, black as black, yellow as yellow. No wonder the education system is not bothering too much with literacy these days, by the time they have censored or withdrawn most of the old books there's bugger all left to read anyway.

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I'm offended

      You used the term 'bugger'...

    2. Jess

      n-word vs. queer

      Because as was pointed out by another poster, the n-word has no valid other meaning.

    3. El

      It's a question of self-preservation

      Simple explanation: they "discriminate" to the extent that they believe they are much more likely to get beaten up by someone who would be offended by the n-word then by someone who would be offended by the q-word.

      It seems to me that people using phrases with bad connotations as self-identification should never be considered offensive. Offense should only be taken when one attempts to apply those words to groups of people that don't include oneself.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    This story written by Chris Moyle or something?

    > "the appalling neologism "ghey", to mean "lame" without homosexual connotation"

    How can anyone pretend it doesn't mean "lame, like being gay is lame"?

  15. Lost in a maze of twisty messages, all alike.

    ghey as a gay

    As far as I understand - I write as a parent of teens and and as a wrinkly nightclubber - ghey is a rather lame back-formation so that people shouldn't be offended by the slang use of the word "gay" to mean lame and ineffectual.

  16. Rob 30

    2 tier minority?

    it makes sense to give the LGBT crew more protection than the religious lot, you can't choose your sexuality as far as i know, but a bit of critical thinking would be all that's needed to straighten out the god botherers.

    and if they're that convinced regardless, let their god look after them and then we'll only have one group to deal with and no need for a 2 tier system! it's win win.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again

    It's not what you say, it's how you say it that causes offense. I don't know a single gay person (yes I'm gay and I know a lot of them) that finds 'Queer' offensive. Many (in the uk at least) seem to be fine with fag too, although the extended faggot seems to still be generally deemed unacceptable all the time.

    There's a difference between "Hey Emma, come meet my queer friends." and a drunk shouting "Die you dirty fag" across the street at 1am. When will people learn this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I object

      "I don't know one..."

      Hello, how do you do? You now know one homosexual person who dislikes and objects to the use of the word "queer" to describe him. "Fag" and "faggot" are equally unacceptable. If anyone has to discuss my sexuality then I prefer that they use the correct word, homosexual.

      I thank you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @I object

        You're perfectly entitled to dislike your sexuality being referred to in any way you wish. But that is not the point. The point is do you find it *offensive* when people use those words when they are not attempting to cause offense and do you not do the sensible thing and just calmly ask to if they would mind using your preferred term?

        If the answer is yes to the above then I'm glad I (almost certainly) don't know you (meeting someone in a comments forum doesn't count as knowing someone).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          That's an interesting point and is akin to to someone taking offense for someone else whilst the someone else isn't offended.

          To answer the question: probably not. I've certainly explained the situation to various people before today and luckily they've accepted it without us getting into a slanging match.

      2. El

        When I use a word...

        I take it then that you have loudly complained to the creators of the show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" about their offensive title, then? Didn't think so.

        "Gay" is more technically concise (and less awkward) than "homosexual", at it also implies male and not female. I strongly object to it being used as a pejorative, but since it is used at part of LGBT I suspect it is acceptable to most.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          "loudly complain ... 'Queer Eye'... didn't think so"

          Au contraire. Didn't help mind.

      3. Clair Lewis
        Thumb Up

        live and let live

        That works for you - you choose how you self identify and that's cool - nobody's going to make anyone else identify as queer. But I also self identify. The term queer in the job ad was not referring to homosexuality - it was general shorthand for this complex gobful:

        pansexual, genderqueer, polyamorous practitioner of BDSM.

        PA work involves being right in someones home - potential staff have a right to know what the job is.. or at least the general gist at ad stage.

        Queer covers it.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Nanny State

    Yes - Gumtree peeved me a few times before. Once I tried to sell a Nintendo DSi AND a DSOne homebrew card. I'm an avid Linux/hardware hacker (e.g. my latest project is turning an IM-ME into a media center remote control).

    They rejected my ad on the basis that buyers with questionable intent can use the DSOne for other purposes. Why, then, am I allowed to sell a frying pan on Gumtree, even though someone with "questionable intent" might use it to bash someone else's head in?

    We live in a Nanny State, so I'll just turn a blind eye and bend over.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nanny State

      "We live in a Nanny State, so I'll just turn a blind eye and bend over."

      Surely Gumtree is not part of the state (or did I miss some recent government reform). Gumtree's refusal to accept your ad is their decision as a private company and nothing to do with a Nanny State.

  19. Alan Esworthy

    @AC 00:35 - backwards?

    I think you mean "...I'll just bend over and turn a blind eye."

  20. Alan Esworthy

    "LGBT" too hard to say

    I've always found the abbreviation "LGBT" quite awkward and difficult to say smoothly. I've come up with a slight modification that improves matters, at least in my own opinion. I now use "GBLT" instead and it becomes an easily pronounced acronym. That "giblets" is already a perfectly acceptable word meaning "edible offal of fowl" of course has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my neologism.

    Please feel free to use GBLT if you like. I hereby release it into the pubic domain.

  21. Rab Sssss

    If the words/phrases

    Are that *bad* nobody should get a free pass for using them...So this taking back shit should have em with the same fucking resttictions and penletys as anybody else.

    If its that bad...personaly I think its the situational meaning not the words/phrases themselves.

  22. Robert E A Harvey

    Garden Trains

    I'm sorry, but to me LGB will always be "Lehmann Gross Bahn" - see .

    The railway items are, in fact, the first 25 odd items returned by google

    where is the steam engine icon?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Here we go again

    If someone said "come meet my queer friends" I'd of thought they were talking about weird friends, much as whenever says anything about faggots I think they're talking about bundles of wood.

    It takes a moment for it to process that they mean homosexual/gay/lesbian.

    Reminds me of a girl saying "come to our pantsless party" in America, and us being very confused because she was most defenetly wearing pants.

  24. Tony Paulazzo

    I am not a Title, I am a free comment!

    >Self-identification is unlikely to invoke the full force of the law<

    So would that be like, just half the force of the law, a quarter?

    Gay black guy here who fixes computers for a living, therefore I'm a PC repair queer nigger (it's not on my business cards though) and damn proud of it - privacy pirate to boot! Laws were introduced to govern behaviour, language was created to easier communicate with each other - the two should never meet...

    >it is difficult to escape the conclusion that increasingly, we are living in a world in which language is being policed irrespective of meaning and context<

    You mean like George Orwells '1984'? That is doubleplusungood and like, so gay (pejorative - such a cool word).

    FAKE EDIT: Well, actually I'm half caste, but we haven't got enough degoratory names to go around - half breed I guess, but the world will be a saner place when we finally take over (unless, like the new Time Machine film, white Jeremy Iron Morlocks eat our tasty tanned flesh).

    EVEN FAKER EDIT: Read William S. Burroughs before they make it illegal. Quote: “How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.” which, I guess, also make me queer - in the head.

  25. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Normal words.

    Don't you love when normal words are used to describe a minority, it becomes a popular meaning, someone takes offence, and then we ban plain ordinary words based on it.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Can I not choose who i do business with anymore?

    I run a small business and provide a service to the public (I mostly design house extensions). I am a 'one man band' and as such there are times when I am simply too busy to take on more work.

    BUT section 29 says

    Provision of services, etc.

    (1) A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.

    Am I now obliged to take on all work regardless of my ability to carry this out? But what about by other clients, surely if im so busy with new work and cannot finish the old work, i will be discriminating under section 29 (5) A service-provider (A) must not, in providing the service, victimise a person (B)

    (a) as to the terms on which A provides the service to B;

    (b) by terminating the provision of the service to B;

    (c) by subjecting B to any other detriment.

    By not being able to complete the work for a client in a timely fashion due to the new work, then I fall foul of section (c) as they will suffer detriment.

    What happens if the person who rings you up for a quote is a lunatic and/or moron. Im sure there are others like me who have developed a 6th sense in detecting the loonies and then you put them off with an excuse (im too busy/ludicrous quote/im going on holiday). Or after a previous experience you may want nothing more to do with previous clients who somehow passed through the idiot filter

    So, am I not now able to run my business as I see fit? Must i deal with anyone, and if i refuse to work for a client will i now be subject to legal action? Sounds like i am no longer in control of my business and will require a government apppointed overlord to ensure i am working for the greater good.... sounds like another quango time!

    Oh, and to tie this post back into the subject matter I shall describe the above situation thus: How queer.

    1. Clair Lewis
      Thumb Up

      I think I..

      love you.

      even though I am a genderqueer pansexual born with a c**t

  27. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Big Brother

    As an educated white male

    I find the uneducated masses in this country offensive and would like them all removed immediately.

    Double-plus good Citizen, divide and conquer.

  28. Richard Porter

    My word, you do look queer

    So Stanley Holloway will have to be banned by the BBC then?

  29. Davey Bee


    '...neologism "ghey", to mean "lame" without homosexual connotation'

    Er.... isnt the word "lame" offensive to disabled people?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      I like titles

      only to disabled people who are lame

  30. A J Stiles

    What we really need

    What we really need is a unified discrimination bill that outlaws *all* forms of discrimination -- whether based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, chiral preference, attire / body adornment, political opinion or whatever -- unless the person practising the discrimination can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a court of law, that a particular characteristic is necessary in order successfully to perform a particular task.

    Oh yes ..... and while we're at it, why is it always lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans? What about us asexuals? Where's a cake icon when you need one?!

  31. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: What we really need

    I dunno - can a comparison be drawn with atheists, who normally don't want to be considered an ersatz religion as it defeats the object somewhat? Is asexuality a sexuality or just an absence thereof? I suppose you'd need a survey. You'd be bound to find arguments for both.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Lay off the word 'fag'. Its slang for a ciggy

    And if I cant puff on a fag in my break, I'll get very cross.

    1. lpopman
      Dead Vulture

      titular adornment

      "puff on a fag" - I see what you did there :)

      I don't suppose you could say "Drag on a fag" either without upsetting TV/TS.....

      tombstone because my fag habit will send me there one day...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "I'm going out to smoke a fag" is a pretty classic one.

    2. El

      I know what you mean

      Some people are just never happy without a fag in their mouth!

      Yes, I would like to see use of the words "fag" and "faggot" reserved for cigs and bundles of sticks, but that will never happen.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Queer theory?

    More sinecures for activists.

    I prefer practical applications.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    This is rich

    Coming from a company whose name makes fun of the elderly's sexual practices.

    Talk about offensive.

  35. Mr Mrr
    IT Angle

    Vote for the Camel Balls here

    AC, Monday 7th December 2009 10:21,

    "If someone said "come meet my queer friends" I'd of thought they were talking about weird friends, much as whenever says anything about faggots I think they're talking about bundles of wood.

    It takes a moment for it to process that they mean homosexual/gay/lesbian" -

    This is a horrible case of sabotage against the language, and it's deployed in many countries. For example, in Russia, as appears, "a homosexual" translates in slang as "a blue one". Some people complain that since the slang meaning appeared (leaked from the special use some 20 yrs ago) in the lexicon, they answer "the sky is OK" if anyone asks smb to look out of the window and see what's the sky.

    Also, yet less Russians give their male children a name "Sergei" (someone here would possibly fall down the floor laughing, drop me a line if so) as it sounds in English as "Sir Gay", for they make no difference between the soundings of "a" and "e". As reported, each time when the name is called, people immediately start imagining Elton John.

    So why won't we try to stop the terror on innocent names and words, I mean, the English-speaking community could probably definitely change using the word "gay" for, let's say, "bill".

    "Hey, waiter! Bring me the... err... ok, just open the gates".

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile back in the real world

    where large numbers of people are just trying to scrape a few things together to stay alive the last thing they are worrying about is bl***dy words. Only the first , self centred world do moronic conversations like this happen. You are offended get over it just be damned grateful you were born here and not in some parts of the world.

    AC cause you'll all want a pop at me. I bet this gets canned.

  37. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    @AC 00:13

    When I was in the UK, I recall a lot of people liked fags, and couldn't wait to suck on one. Personally, I think they are disgusting, are dangerous to your health and leave stains. They should definitely be banned.

    Umm... this is the anti-smoking thread, right?

    Mine's the one with the English <-> American dictionary in the pocket.

  38. Rachel 4


    "shorthand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual"

    Or even Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender ...

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