The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is not giving the new domain .GAY community priority evaluation. It’s absolutely the wrong thing to do, says Rob Buchanan
ICANN is the internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. One of ICANN’s roles is the ability to grant community priority evaluation status to top-level domain names, which obviously can have a massive impact on world markets and communications.
ICANN is beginning to issue several new, important top-level domains and .GAY is one of them. Usually when a top level domain is obviously in the interest of a certain group or organisation (for example .EU), then community priority evaluation is granted to it to allow that section to avail of it. However, despite the fact that a huge campaign can been mounted by LGBT organisations, it seems ICANN, via the Economist Intelligence Unit, which was contracted to carry out the accessment, have decided that .GAY does not warrant community priority to gay people. Instead it will be auctioned off to big business.
We need to do everything we can to make it clear that LGBT people are a distinct community, and one deserving of community priority evaluation for .GAY. The very existence of a market for .GAY proves that it has a significant potential value, and a large, self-identifiable target audience. It’s absurd that organisations for LGBT community should not be given priority access.
Why has the widespread campaign across the spectrum of LGBT interests been ignored by The Economist Intelligence Unit? Would a similar initiative for other minorities be dismissed so easily? 240 LGBT organisations mounted a coherent campaign, yet their concerns have been swept aside in favour of the potential massive financial potential of auctioning .GAY off to big business.
There are two sides to the pink pound coin. On the one hand Queers wield a hefty bargaining tool and weapon when we effectively use our significant collective buying power to support or boycott companies and services. On the other, brand LGBT can be ruthlessly exploited by big businesses that have absolutely no interest in our health or civil rights.
This calculated move by the ICANN is just another step in the soulless commodification of homosexuality. .GAY has massive potential to increase social cohesion as well as broaden access to information and services which would greatly improve the lives of LGBT people across the globe. Self-interested corporations should not be allowed to use it to cynically hock product to gay people.
More than most minorities, LGBT people rely massively on the Internet, to relieve isolation, to access vital health and education materials. Young people and closeted people especially avail of the relative anonymity and security the Internet provides. For millions it is the primary method of discourse and dissemination of information, filling a huge gap that other heterocentric media entirely ignores.
.GAY would provide an indispensable tool for commerce for the LGBT community. It would help the social mobility of a community that in many parts of the world is forced into poverty and unemployment because of stigma and oppression.
This move, if unchecked, could also set a dangerous precedent for other minorities. It could prove the thin end of the wedge in the erosion of a coherent and mutually supportive LGBT community, while also making it open season for every big business (gay, straight or even homophobic) to parasitically exploit LGBT people, while giving nothing back. It is crucial that we do everything we can preserve .GAY to grasp this thin slice of the Internet pie, which is rightfully ours.
Do your part for spreading the word. Urge @ICANN to reconsider the evaluation of .GAY so that it serves our community rather than exploits us, on Twitter now, #reICANN
Urge @ICANN to reconsider the evaluation of .GAY so that it serves our community rather than exploits us, on Twitter now, #reICANN
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