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.