The Independent Objector’s letter
The Independent Objector (IO) is empowered to file Community Objections on the part of any community that has filed comments indicate that an application might cause harm to a community. The IO is bound by a set of rules established in the Applicant Guidebook.
Recently the IO published a set notes covering his view on the Controversial Applications. “Controversial Applications” were defined as those strings, such as .gay, that had received many comments during the comment period. .Gay was one of the strings that had received a fair number of comments. The IO has decided not to file an objection against the string .gay or .lgbt at this time.
This is important because there were several objections from Saudi Arabia and other arab countries that condemned the idea of a .gay TLD on the Internet because they believed that everything gay was immoral and a threat to their way of life. The IO could have undertaken an objection on their behalf against all of those applying for .gay or .lgbt, including the community application by dotgay LLC.
I am grateful to the IO for his decision not to file against any use of the string .gay or .lgbt. In refusing to do so, he acknowledged that the existence of gay and lgbt terminology was no an offense against humanity. We do not know yet whether the commenter from Saudi Arabia will be willing to pay for the objection himself, but at least the IO won’t be doing it.
There was another option the IO could have taken. He could have objected to specific applications. For example, several comments had mentioned the community harm that could come from a non-community delegation of .gay. He decided not to because he argued that it wasn’t his job to decide on whether a particular application was a Community application was a bona-fide community application or not.
In one sense he is right, it is not his decision; it is the community’s. However, with over 150 letters from significant global gay community organizations declaring that they supported dotgay LLC as the Community applicant, he perhaps could have taken a clue from the community. Rather, he indicated:
“comments made on the community ground do not tend to prove the existence of such a community and do not necessarily pretend to express an opinion in the name of a delineated community.”
I think that the gay community knows it is a community. And I think that many of the comments did indeed express an opinion as members of the ‘delineated community’, for example Centerlink, ILGTA, Out&Equal, and many others. Perhaps he needs some further argument and evidence. The opportunity to comment is still open.
In reading his response, it then becomes clear that he is not concerned with the harm Standard non-Community applications might inflict on the community by their applications. He is concerned, instead, about the harm a .gay might inflict on various religious or national communities.
But what about the harms that the standard non-community applications might inflict on the gay community itself. Several of the community organizations who commented on community harm, such as ILGA, COC Nederlands, National Gay and Lesbian Chambers of Commerce, and others, stated that Standard non-Community applications would cause harm to the gay community. These do not seem to have made an impression on the IO; at least not as of yet.
As it stands, if the IO is not convinced to file an objection on behalf of gay community members with standing, then each objection that needs to be filed will cost approximately £30,000 UK (or approximately $50,0000 USD). The gay community has until the end of February to convince the IO of the reasons for filing objections in order to prevent the harm that will be caused to the gay community by Standard non-Community applications, such as the applications filed by the following companies that are trying to obtain .gay without involving the community:
Or the following company that is trying to obtain .lgbt without involving the community:
The ICANN Independent Objector, the IO, can file an objection against these efforts, but only if he is convinced that they will cause the community harm. But he can only be convinced when the organizations with standing from the gay community tell him that these would harm the community.
What about all the other applicants for Gay Community names?
Types of Application for .gay
There are two types of applications for new top level domains (gTLD): Standard and Community. In this round, dotgay is the only community applicant, the other three applications for .gay and the one application for .lgbt are all standard applications. The primary difference between community applications and standard applications is that community applications are contractually bound to meeting commitments made to the community about how the gTLD will be run in support of the community and that standard applications were pretty much free to do anything with the name they pleased (though both are bound to same operational rules.)
The primary reasons for submitting a community application is service to the community. The primary reasons for submitting a standard application is business, which in the Gay, i.e. LGBTQIA…, Community is sometimes known as the pink dollar.
The following companies are trying to obtain .gay without involving the community:
The following company is trying to obtain .lgbt without involving the community
At the recent ILGA-2012 conference in Stockholm, dotgay LLC maintained a booth where it discussed the ICANN New gTLD process and dotgay’s application for .gay. A topic that came up as much as any other was:
Can anything be done to protect the community from exploitation by those who just want to use the name for making money?
The answer is yes, under certain conditions.
ICANN provided several basis for filing a formal objections against applications.
Community Objection – There is substantial opposition to the gTLD application from a significant portion of the community to which the gTLD string may be explicitly or implicitly targeted.
The four tests described here will enable a DRSP panel to determine whether there is substantial opposition from a significant portion of the community to which the string may be targeted. For an objection to be successful, the objector must prove that:
• The community invoked by the objector is a clearly delineated community; and
• Community opposition to the application is substantial; and
• There is a strong association between the community invoked and the applied-for gTLD string; and
• The application creates a likelihood of material detriment to the rights or legitimate interests of a significant portion of the community to which the string may be explicitly or implicitly targeted. Each of these tests is described in further detail below.
Who can object to the standard applications for .gay and .lgbt
One of the questions that comes up when the process of objections is explained to the dotgay community is whether dotgay LLC had any intention to file an objection.
ICANN has defined criteria for standing to object. In order to object an institution must have a longstanding relationship with the community and cannot be a group created to apply for the .gay. There are a set of strict conditions that must be met in order for an organization to have standing to object. Not all organization will meet the threshold that ICANN has set.
Clearly while many of the members of the community who have given support to dotgay’s community application may have standing to object to the non community applicants, dotgay LLC itself does not have standing.
Why might a Gay Community organization object to the non-community applications for .gay and .lgbt
At ILGA-2012 there were also discussions of the various forms of harm, aka material detriment, that the non-community applications could have on the Gay community. Some of the possible detriments included:
- Anyone will be allowed to register a .gay or .lgbt name;
- The community will lose its most precious natural resource – its name;
- It will enable another method for exploitation of the gay community for profit;
- The profits from .gay or .lgbt will not be used to benefit the gay community;
- The community will lose the chance to offer new programs to help LGBTQIA… people;.
- It will not be trusted by the community;
- It will not be safe to use to enhance gay community business.
If you can’t believe that a business.gay or business.lgbt is a community business how can you trust it to be gay friendly;
- It can be used as a vehicle to incite prejudice against the community;
- It can be a tool for discrimination against the community;
- It can be used for fund raising for anti-gay campaigns;
- It will fail to increase visibility of the LGBTQIA people and instead obscure it as much as it is obscured by com;
- It will not represent a safe haven on the internet that the community can trust;
- Names will be sold to the highest bidder with no concern for the well-being of the community;
- The names will not build on the heritage of the self help by gay community business;
- It will not be a force to fight discrimination in the workplace, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be force to fight discrimination in tourism, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be a force to fight discrimination in business, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be a force to fight discrimination in sports, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be a force to fight discrimination in the media, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be a force to fight discrimination in social service, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not be a force in the fight for LGBTQIA human rights, in fact it may be used to foster discrimination;
- It will not provide service directed at the gay community;
- Instead of building relationships within the community it will cause distrust;
- It will be used to incite violence against LGBTQIA persons;
But mostly because a standard application will exploit the community.
So why wouldn’t a qualified organization file a Community Objection
Will there be a Community Objection to the non-community applications for .gay or .lgbt?
A story about the pink dollar.
Why .gay and not …
Many people, for example at ILGA-12 in Stockholm, and elsewhere have asked why dotgay choose to apply for .gay and neither .lgbt, or some other similar acronym, nor .queer. Good arguments could be, and were, made for many applications and it seems important that all of the community’s many names should be under the control of the community and not used by those who wish to exploit the community. One of the top priorities, regardless of the choice of name, was to also have the ability to become an umbrella to all of the changing areas representing the community, allowing equal voice and strength. As community members experience decreased risks in Coming Out, we will continue to define the many aspects of the LGBTQIA…, i.e Gay, community.
So why pick .gay first?
From the time the policy discussions in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began, it was known that .gay was going to be a test case application because of the division in the world over Gay Rights. Not everyone accepts that Gay Rights are Human Rights. Then again not everyone accepts Human Rights. Gay Community participants in ICANN knew that there would be a .gay application. We knew that we wanted a .gay application to succeed and we knew that we wanted .gay to belong to the Gay Community.
So, if only one name could be applied for in this round, there will be other rounds, then .gay had to be that name.
But does .gay cover the whole community
Those at dotgay who wrote the .gay application, and those who advised the writing, were members of the community, who identified with diverse different colors in the LGBTQIA… rainbow. As we reviewed the literature and cross linguistic perspectives, it was clear that the word gay was used, and understood, by all segments of society to refere to the community. This was true for both members of the community as well as those who were not members of the community While not everyone knows what the letters LGBTQIA or even GLBT stand for, everyone in the digital world knows what Gay means, not matter what language they speak. We all know that when the media in any country talks about the “Gay Community”, they mean all of us.