Google has apologised after it emerged that its translation tool has been replacing the word ‘gay’ with homophobic slurs.

Google introduced a fix to the software and offered an apology yesterday (January 26) after an AllOut petition calling on the company to address the problem amassed over 50,000 signatures.

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When translating ‘gay’ from English into Spanish, French or Portuguese, Google Translate had been offering words like ‘faggot,’ ‘poof,’ ‘fairy’ and ‘dyke’ as synonyms.

When the Russian word for ‘gay’ is translated into English, some of the results shown included ‘pansy boy’, ‘fairy’ and ‘sodomite.’

“Imagine learning English and being taught to say hateful insults instead of neutral language for ‘gay’. Google Translate – used by over 500 million people every month – was suggesting slurs as synonyms for the word ‘gay’, AllOut said in a statement.

“Thousands of us signed the urgent petition and Google heard us. This is how powerful we are when we stand together.”

A Google spokesman has also issued an apology, saying: “As soon as we were informed that some of our translations for certain terms were serving inappropriate results, we immediately began working to fix the issue. We apologise for any offence this has caused people.

“Our systems produce translations automatically based on existing translations on the web, so we appreciate when users point out issues such as this.”

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