TECH

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns Over Gay Marriage Backlash

04/04/2014 09:07 BST | Updated 07/04/2014 17:59 BST

The CEO of Mozilla, which makes the popular browser Firefox, has been forced to resign over his opposition to gay marriage.

Brendan Eich was announced as the new CEO of Mozilla in March, but was almost immediately criticised for donations he had previously made to politicians and campaigns supporting a ban on gay marriage in California.

Eich donated $1,000 to a pro 'Proposition 8' campaign in 2011, and also contributed funds to fringe political candidates Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan in particular is regarded as a divisive figure on the topic of gay rights. He was infamously quoted as having said "our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide" in relation to the Aids epidemic. He also once said that "homosexuals have declared war on nature".

Initially refusing to resign, Eich said that the donations were personal and told the Guardian that "the principle that I have operated by, that is formalised in our code of conduct at Mozilla, is it's really about keeping anything that's not central to our mission out of our office".

But as anger built about the donations, and sites including OK Cupid posted messages to users of Firefox that they should switch browsers over the issue, he finally chose to step down on Thursday.

Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, said in a blogpost that Firefox and Mozilla advocates were "right to be angry".

"We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act," she wrote in the blogpost.

"We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."