In late January, dotgay LLC announced some good news for those of us who favor LGBTQ community control of a dedicated space on the Web: Following a lively campaign by Internet users and LGBTQ organizations, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers questioned the work of the Economic Intelligence Unit, the entity it had charged with reviewing the application of dotgay LLC to own the future .gay generic top level domain, and ordered EIU to carry out a new review with a new team of evaluators. Reopening the application may lead to approval of dotgay LLC as owner of .gay, but unless the review takes into account the inherently blurred borders of the LGBTQ community, we may end up with a second, and definitive, rejection of the existence of an online “gay” community from ICANN.
As I’ve written before (here, here, and here), the creation of the .gay domain space has been a long and troubled process. The new domain is part of ICANN’s controversial decision to create new domain names alongside stalwarts like .com, .org, or .uk. This has already given us new extensions like .wedding, .london, and .audi. The whole scheme has been called a giant scam, aimed at forcing existing brand owners to buy new domains to protect their intellectual property. Such is the case of the new .sucks domain, where the only way for a company like General Motors to avoid the creation of a website at generalmotors.sucks is to buy the domain, at an annual cost of $2,500, a situation described by former Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., as “little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.”
@Slate / The International @Olympics Committee comes out against anti-gay discrimination #Agenda2020
A few hours ago, I saw some news that literally made me jump for joy: At long last the International Olympic Committee will change the wording of the Olympic Charter to include protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
This development was part of 40 recommendations published today ahead of next month’s IOC meeting in Monaco, where IOC President Thomas Bach’s “Agenda 2020” process will conclude with significant changes to the bidding process for and organization of the Olympic Games.
The change in language is significant. More than four years ago, I was part of the first formal attempt to demand these reforms. The Federation of Gay Games’ “Principle 5 Campaign” (since then, nondiscrimination has been renumbered as Principle 6) called for sexual orientation and gender identity to be made explicit as criteria protected from discrimination in sport. This call was taken up by Pride House International, particularly during the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The new language will say: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
A few weeks ago, when much ado was made about a proposed change in the Olympic host city contract, I expressed great skepticism. The language in question had already been part of past contracts, and any reference to the nondiscrimination clause that didn’t explicitly include sexual orientation was of little interest to gay and lesbian athletes.
This week, the long-delayed decision from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on the future of the new .gay generic top level domain (gTLD) was published, and the news was very bad for the LGBTQ community. ICANN is the entity that controls the key bits of the Internet, in particular the domain name system. It is currently in the long drawn-out process of creating hundreds of new gTLDs, including .lawyer, .ibm and .hiv to join stalwarts such as .com and .org.
I’ve written about this process a few times in Slate, often about the application for the .gay domain name (here and here), which has been subject to a fight between three commercial applicants and a fourth, dotgay LLC, which was applying under the “community priority evaluation” process set up by ICANN to protect certain domain names that served the interests of a particular community. In a document dated Oct. 6 but made public on Thursday, that application was rejected following a review by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the business contracted by ICANN to carry out this task.
The Associated Press reports today that the International Olympic Committee hasdecided to include new language in host city contracts that will require the cities and national Olympic committees of their countries to adhere to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which bans discrimination in sport. Despite the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly protected in the clause’s language (unlike race, nationality, gender, etc.), advocacy organizations like Athlete Ally and All Out are praising the move as a great improvement from the 2014 Sochi games, during which Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws drew criticism from LGBTQ and human rights groups around the world.
Yet nothing in this announcement can guarantee any real protection for LGBTQ people. While All Out may claim that “This clause will ensure that future host cities must abide by international human rights standards in order to host the games, including the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and athletes,” this is more wishful thinking than reality. For that kind of protection to be certain, the IOC must explicitly include sexual minorities in its Charter or host city contract—and, more important, provide a means of enforcing such commitments.
After losing the 2012 French presidential election to François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy swore he was leaving politics for good. He made a stab at business in the following years, bankrolled by his friends in Qatar, but was an even bigger failure at that than he had been as president. After months of fake suspense, he finally made the official announcement last week that he would run to lead his political party, the UMP, which is crippled by corruption scandals (many involving Sarkozy’s own 2012 presidential campaign) and drowning in debt.
Although a majority of French people would like Sarkozy to go away, he remains popular among party members, and is the clear favorite to win UMP leadership race, which would in turn position him well to become the right-wing party’s candidate for the presidency in 2017. But with his comments last Sunday about marriage equality—he suggested it was “humiliating” to straight families—Sarkozy may have weakened his chances of winning by bringing jaded LGBTQ voters back into play.
Oh, the irony: Gay folk are upset about someone attacking the dignity of marriage by getting married. That’s the line homophobes use to oppose marriage equality: Same-sex marriage somehow magically undermines the institution of mixed-sex marriage.
Yet the dignity argument is the one that’s being trotted out in response to the news that a couple of apparently straight New Zealand bros, Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick, got married as part of a radio publicity stunt. The reward offered for two friends willing to show just how strong their friendship is? Tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. The ceremony took place, appropriately enough, at Eden Park, Auckland’s famed rugby venue.
I’ve had the pleasure of having a few pieces published on in Slate, in particular in Outward. None have had as much response, good and bad, as my rant against the current International Olympic Committee policy that bans women with high natural testosterone levels from competing in women’s events.
Many of the commenters on my earlier piece about the exclusion of Indian sprinter Dutee Chand from the 2014 Commonwealth Games seemed not to have read the article. No, I was not calling for an end to women’s sport. No, I do not think that people should just decide what gender to compete in. No, it is not plausible that men will declare themselves women just to get a great WNBA contract. No, banned athlete Dutee Chand was not doping. No, it clearly is not obvious who is a woman for the purposes of sport, as decades of failure have so clearly demonstrated. And no, there is absolutely no history of a man competing as a woman—all the examples cited were ambiguous cases, or intersex women, or women whose chromosomes didn’t comply with the tidy binary that our society enforces on men and women.
When the Indian team entered Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, last week for the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games, one athlete was missing: Dutee Chand, a sprinter disqualified shortly before the Games because of excess levels of testosterone in her blood.
Chand was not found guilty of doping. Because of privacy concerns, the Indian authorities have not released details about the athlete, and indeed, they did not even name Chand, who soon confirmed that she is the athlete in question. The Sports Authority of India had simply declared: “Preliminary investigations indicate that the athlete is not fit for participation in a female event due to female hyperandrogenism.” This follows the regulations of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, which since 2011 has declared that naturally high levels of testosterone make women athletes ineligible for women’s competitions.
After 90-plus years of women’s sport, governing bodies continue to fight a losing war against an imaginary foe: the presence of male interlopers in women’s competitions. The casualties of this war are the women who are subjected to humiliating screening and testing, a minority of whom will be designated by sports authorities as not “real” women, or at best, women ineligible to compete as women. (more…)
Slate.com / No one can agree on what “homemade” means: France’s new labeling law was doomed from the beginning
As you enjoy your coq au vin this summer in a quaint Parisian bistro, you may find the staff even surlier than usual. The reason for restaurateurs’ consternation is a law that came into effect on July 15 intended to protect “real cuisine” from the onslaught of industrial food that’s served in up to 70 percent of restaurants in France, according to some estimates.
French restaurateurs seeking to maintain the tradition of quality have increasingly complained of unfair competition from eateries that, most often unbeknownst to diners, simply microwave ready-made meals, defrost frozen products, or slice off a length of hard-boiled egg in a tube for your oeuf mayonnaise.
Whenever there is a problem in France, there are legislators ready to respond with a law. The new fait maison law requires that restaurants serving homemade food say so by means of a special logo that looks like a saucepan with a roof over it. If all the food served in a restaurant is homemade, a poster suffices; if only some dishes are homemade, they must be tagged as such on the menu. If you’re the kind of consumer who likes to know where your food comes from, this might sound like a pretty good idea, but au contraire: This law is as flawed as they come.
“You are creating a business, like derivatives on Wall Street, that has no value,” Esther Dyson, the founding chairwoman of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, once said about ICANN’s project to create hundreds of new generic top level domains, known as gTLDs.
Aside from the opportunity to use non-Latin alphabets, the new gTLDs are a solution in search of a problem, a multi-million-dollar boondoggle, generating income of more than $300 million in ICANN application fees alone. (Paradoxically, this may result in only minimal net revenue for the corporation.)
That sum does not include the operating costs of the hundreds of applicants seeking to become the registry for a given gTLD (registries “own” top level domains under contract with ICANN and in turn contract with registrars such as Gandi.net or GoDaddy, which sell domain names using the TLD to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc.), nor the ongoing costs to brand owners, who arealready seeing the negative consequences they feared at the launch of the program.
These new gTLDs offer real risks to the LGBTQ community. I have written here and here about the travails of dotgay LLC in its attempts to secure the .gay gTLD. After granting a commercial operator the rights to .lgbt, ICANN will soon decide whether dotgay LLC’s community priority application will succeed for .gay, or whether the string will be awarded to the highest bidder for purely commercial operation. If the latter comes to pass, both .gay and .lgbt, the two names under consideration of the greatest interest to the LGBTQ community, will be operated solely to benefit commercial interests, with no protection against possible abuse of these names, no community involvement, and no funds returning to the community.
But there is a third gTLD that also concerns many in the LGBTQ community: .hiv. It has enjoyed a much better fate than .gay and offers some good from the ill wind ICANN has been blowing on the web.
The new .hiv domain name was successfully proposed by dotHIV, a Berlin-based nonprofit corporation that signed a registration contract with ICANN in late March, with a first batch of “sunrise” domain launches to begin later this month, and .hiv opening to all applicants in August.