The Valorant Game Changers Program appears to exclude certain LGBT people -- including nonbinary people -- from its competition in the European, Middle East, and Africa region -- reportedly due to legal issues within certain countries.
Riot Games has been making efforts to better protect its community over the last several months, most recently with its announcement that it would temporarily record and review voice chat in Valorant based on player reports. Part of its efforts include the creation of the Valorant Game Changers program which aims to create "new opportunities and exposure for women and other marginalized genders within VALORANT esports." Unfortunately, Riot appears to have dropped the ball with this program in the European, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.
Valorant Game Changers Has Strict Gender Rules in EMEA Region
The Valorant Game Changers EMEA rulebook has strict gender requirements for players, noting that all players must be "women players" and that they must prove their gender with government documentation.
The issues in the EMEA region rulebook were highlighted in a new report over at Dot Esports. In addition to the issues with the rules, Dot Esports says that it has spoken with sources on the matter. These sources reportedly have said that these rules exist in this region for "legal and safety reasons." Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all have laws on the books that could penalize people with LGBTQ+ identities, and countries such as Russia have laws against "Gay Propaganda." Other countries have trickier situations where LGBTQ+ status may not be strictly illegal, but it is less culturally acceptable.
This isn't the first time Riot has had a misstep with LGBTQ+ players; back in 2015, a League of Legends tournament had some rather baffling rules limiting the number of LGBTQ+ players on a team, and the company canceled a planned event in Saudia Arabia last year under mysterious circumstances. Riot is not alone in making these kinds of mistakes, either; Injustice 2 featured a tone-deaf event for Pride Month earlier this year.
Riot Games is currently engaged in a legal dispute with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing regarding sexism, after the state objected to a $10m settlement that had been proffered by Riot.