Google Translate Gets Rid of Gay Slurs

PHOTO: A sign is posted outside of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, Calif. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A sign is posted outside of Google headquarters on Jan. 30, 2014 in Mountain View, Calif.

When Andre Banks typed the word "gay" into Google's translation tool he said he was dismayed to see several anti-gay slurs were suggested as synonyms.

Banks, the executive director of All Out, an advocacy organization, spearheaded a petition that gained 51,000 signatures in less than a day and quickly caught Google's attention.

"People use Google translate every day to make sense of the world, learning languages, trying to communicate," Banks told ABC News. "What we wanted to say is the common words aren't the same as the terrible words being used to describe us across time."

A Google spokesperson told ABC News that the company quickly worked to scrub the software of the derogatory language.

"We apologize for any offense this has caused people," the spokesperson said. "Our systems produce translations automatically based on existing translations on the web, so we appreciate when users point out issues such as this."

Banks said he was heartened by Google's response and always "expected Google to do the right thing."

"It’s important Google is able to provide an accurate translation of these words that describe so many people," he said. "We were really glad to see this change happen in hours, not weeks and months."