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League of Legends tournament withdraws LGBT restrictions

The league promoting an all-women League of Legends competition has removed its restrictions on the number of lesbian, gay and transgender women who can compete on each team, following a backlash when the discriminatory policy came to light yesterday.

Garena Phillippines, in a statement today, apologized "for any offense we caused to the LGBT and gaming communities." It said it arrived at the decision to lift the restrictions after talking with its partners and "re-examining our approach" to the women-only tournament, called Iron Solari.

The restrictions would have capped teams to just one gay or transgender woman for the entirety of the match day. Garena Phillippines claimed to be capping their participation because some players "may probably have some unfair advantage," by virtue of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Violators faced a one-year ban on all tournaments Garena sponsored, whether that violation was discovered during the event or later.

Garena's decision on Iron Solari met with swift condemnation through news and social media, and Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends, quickly issued a statement distancing its game from Garena's policy. "LGBT players are welcome at official LoL tourneys," the publisher said yesterday afternoon. "We're working with partners to ensure consistency with our values across all regions."

In removing its restrictions, Garena said that "any player who self-identifies as female will be allowed to participate."

League of Legends tournaments are frequently saturated with male entrants; Garena said its original intent in starting the Iron Solari tournament was "to promote diversity in the competitive gaming community."

The second leg of The Iron Solari takes place Feb. 22 in Manila.

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