EIU set to fail LGBT community unless Internet domain-naming authority intervenes

The EIU chose to "elevate the level of this evaluation to interrogation" and disrespect the expertise, desires and efforts of the gay community. Photo provided.

(New York, NY) With claims from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that the word 'GAY' is "not a well-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA people," the international organization responsible for maintaining the Internet's global domain system has denied dotgay LLC's community application proposal to operate the .GAY top-level domain (TLD).

Lexus Nexus search, Google search, global community supporters, and common sense point to GAY as the best-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA people around the world.

Yet in October 2015, despite support from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and hundreds of other community organizations, dotgay LLC received a failing score on a community evaluation performed by the EIU.

The EIU, contracted by ICANN to perform the community evaluations, chose to "elevate the level of this evaluation to interrogation" and disrespect the expertise, desires and efforts of the gay community. dotgay LLC's application was the only one of four for .GAY that was designed and supported by the global gay community.

Passing the community evaluation would avoid the extortionist-like price tag expected of the community to secure .GAY at auction. The EIU's actions contradict all common sense and are being interpreted as the outcome of a hostile environment.

In contrast to the scrutiny dotgay LLC has experienced, the EIU has readily approved broadly defined community applications for .HOTEL, .SPA, .ECO and others.

For example, the EIU validated a definition of the hotel community as "establishments with services and additional facilities where accommodation and in most cases meals are available."

Unsettling such that dotgay LLC was penalized for specifically including segments like Transgender within the definition of the gay community.

What is clear is that the EIU itself has over-reached. The EIU has subjected the .GAY application to intense review and dismissed the reality of GAY as a commonly known term, used broadly by the world's population and the community itself.

In doing so the EIU is simultaneously disregarding the power and global recognition of the umbrella term GAY, ignoring references to telling examples like Gay Rights, Gay Marriage and anti-Gay laws. The term GAY in these examples does not distinguish between the LGB and the TQIA as the EIU has suggested.

"We are poised to suffer a great loss that the gay community cannot recover from if ICANN allows the EIU decision to stand," says dotgay LLC founder Scott Seitz.

"That kind of loss, from this type of discrimination, equates to a setback with Internet equality for the gay community."

This battle is essential and not just a "nice to have" battle. Achieving a community-operated .GAY establishes important and equal access to Internet commerce.

As Internet sales remain among the fastest growing segments of a country's gross domestic product, LGBTQI and our allies will lose a potentially powerful resource.

"For example, the EU estimated that their GDP from Internet-based commerce would be 11% ($37.8 billion US) in 2015," says Seitz.

"And in order for the gay community to be fully engaged in the social and economic benefits being generated from the Internet, it must participate in the overall operations and policy development of the Domain Name System (DNS).

"TLD ownership facilitates this. Commercial or corporate entities have no stake in supporting community efforts."

No Comparable Competitors for Coveted TLD

"The limited liability company (LLC) with a 501c3 foundation arm, submitted its $185,000 application in June 2012 and is vying against well-financed corporate competitors and 'domain speculators' for operation rights of the coveted .GAY TLD," says Seitz who stresses that the process has been fueled by spurious claims ignited by competitors.

Competitive efforts, known as 'Standard' applications, have no obligation to network, link or include the community in their proposal planning.

Conversely, the dotgay LLC application has incorporated the knowledge, experience and leadership of the community throughout the application design and into future development and operation of the TLD.

The dotgay community mission is focused on addressing key issues related to safety, visibility and support for the gay community.

"We're the only Certified LGBT Business Enterprise bidding for any domain at ICANN. It's vital that .GAY is a part of the community because owning a TLD gives the gay community a place at the table for Internet visibility, commerce and governance," says Seitz.

dotgay LLC operations will be a hybrid non-profit that is run on a business model, with the LLC contributing 67% of the profits from domain name sales to its 501c3 foundation being governed by a community board.

Widespread LGBTQIA Support for Initiative

By applying the criteria differently to dotgay LLC's application, the EIU is holding the gay community to a different standard than other community applications and presenting a biased opinion that the Trans and Intersex communities cannot or should not ever identify with the LGB under the gay umbrella.

The EIU is ignoring the hard-fought efforts of the 250+ organizations with LGBTQIA stakeholders that supported the initiative, and who are prominent advocates advancing gay rights.

Community Call to Action  

ICANN's Board Governance Committee is currently reviewing dotgay LLC's reconsideration request that challenges the methods employed by the EIU when determining that the word GAY is not a well-known abbreviation for the community of LGBTQIA.

It is clear that the EIU's decision contradicts common sense and even threatens the gay community's ability to take ownership of the coveted .GAY TLD. 

For years, people have found ways to argue away our rights, discredit our community and keep us from opportunity. We must not let that happen on the Internet as well.
A decision is expected by early February 2016.
Get vocal on your social media channels using the hashtag #Yes2dotgay with a simple message like;
Say NO to unfair & unequal treatment of the gay community at the hands of @TheEIU #Yes2dotgay
Email ICANN and the Board Governance Committee to express your concerns with how the EIU unequally evaluated and unfairly disadvantaged the .GAY community application for a second time.
Akram Atallah, President of Global Domains Division (ICANN) - akram.atallah@icann.org
Chris Disspain, Chair of Board Governance Committee (ICANN) - ceo@auda.org.au
Administrative emailnewgtld@icann.org

The dotgay Reconsidertation Request is available online. 
To learn more about the dotgay LLC plan, get involved and go online to www.dotgay.com

The Gayly - 1/27/2016 @ 2:51 p.m. CST