Xbox Live members will for the first time be able to express their sexual orientation, race, or religion in their gamertags and profiles, Microsoft announced Friday.
The move comes as a result of what Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten said was significant feedback from the service's community asking for the ability to be open about such personal details, as well as their nationalities.
Whitten also said that the new policy provides for "increased stringency and enforcement" to ensure that community members do not insult or throw slurs at others for the way they express their identities.
Last July, Stephen Toulouse, the head of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, told CNET News that he felt that the previous policy regarding members expressing their sexual orientation was "inelegant" and that though he and his team were working on improving the situation, they had no timetable.
Up until now, Microsoft's policy has been to bar any discussion of sexuality in profiles or gamertags, which prevented those who wanted to publicly identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender from doing so. Toulouse said at the time that 98 percent of Xbox Live members using the term "gay" did so in a derogatory manner, rather than as a way of self-identification.
"I truly believe that our diversity is what makes us strong," said Whitten of the 23-million member Xbox Live service, "diversity in gaming and entertainment options, and diversity in the people that make up this amazing community.