.gay

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Dotgay1.JPG
Status: Contracted
Manager: Top Level Design
Type: Generic Top Level Domain
Category: Culture
Key People
Raymond King, CEO

.gay is a new generic top level domain name (gTLD). After years of applicant contention, Top Level Design became the contracted registry operator for .gay on May 23 2019,[1] after a private auction between the four total applicants.[2]

Former Applicants

  1. Demand Media (United TLD Holdco Ltd.) - This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  2. dotgay LLC - Community Application
  3. Top Level Domain Holdings - This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.

The fourth, and winning applicant, was Top Level Design.

Application Details

dotgay LLC

Scott Seitz is the CEO of dotgay LLC and selected Neustar to provide back-end registry services. [3] The company is affiliated with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, New York (NGLCCNY) and is also an LGBTBE Certified entity. With community oversight and transparency, dotgay LLC planned to donate 67% of the net profits generated from the sales of .gay domain names to non-profit LGBT organizations.[4] Its application is a Community Application.

dotgay LLC’s registration policies will include participation by "Authentication Partners", which will be a global network of LGBTQIA membership organizations and community groups. Eligibility is determined through formal membership with any of dotgay LLC’s Authentication Partners (AP) from the community. Selected community relevant generic terms, such as "travel," will be reserved as index domains and remain community property at the second level (ie travel.gay). Index domains will be used to organize and aggregate community registrants, creating community hubs that will raise visibility within the community and become trusted resources for users.[5]

In December 2012 dotgay LLC began an outreach campaign to potential Authentication Partners as described in their application.[6]

Top Level Design

Raymond King, CEO of Top Level Design together with his business associate Peter Brual are applying for 10 gTLDs including .gay. Raymond is also the founder and director of ICANNWiki and CEO of Aboutus.org. King assured the presentation and neutrality of ICANNWiki.org will not be affected by his business venture on new gTLDs. CentralNic provides back-end registry services for the company. [7]

Top Level Domain Holdings

The company confirmed that .gay is one of the 68 gTLD strings it is applying on its own behalf. [8]

Dot Gay Alliance

It seems the previously announced Dot Gay Alliance is defunct, as it did not apply for the TLD under this name.[9][10]

GAC Objections

A report from Time Techland quoted a statement from Milton Mueller, a Syracuse University professor and ICANN expert, that the contenders for the .gay TLD might face objections among the members of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) from conservative Arab nations. Mueller's statement reads, "It is clear from conversations with government officials in a couple of conservative Arab countries that they object to .gay."[11]

Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) filed an objection against the TLD, citing that "Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion. The creation of a gTLD string which promotes homosexuality will be offensive to these societies and cultures. We respectfully request that ICANN refuse the application for this gTLD."[12]

Independent Objector

The Independent Objector is responsible for determining if a new gTLD application is in the best interest of the Internet community. If not, he or she will file formal objections against a new gTLD application. Alain Pellet, a law professor from the University of Paris and a former member of the United Nations International Law Commission and International Court of Justice, was chosen by ICANN to serve as the sole independent objector for the New gTLD Program in May, 2012. [13] The position was created by ICANN in accordance with the implementation of the New gTLD Program. As defined, the IO may be an individual or organization and must not be affiliated with any applicant and must carry out their responsibility without bias.[14]

In December 2012 Mr. Pellet released his first correspondence on actual TLDs, commenting on so-called "Controversial strings". Those strings include: .adult, .sex, .porn, .sexy, .hot, .gay, .lgbt, .persiangulf, .vodka, and .wtf. A string seemed to have been deemed "controversial" by Mr. Pellet if it received a substantial amount of objections during the public comment period. He addresses each TLD separately and at length, noting the objection, and turning to International law and precedent to determine whether an objection from his point of view, of defending the public interest, is warranted. In each case he concludes that the objections are not supported by international law and that regional, cultural, and personal issues influence the objections rather than broadly accepted treaties, laws, or international cultural trends. He has reserved the right to later object to the strings, but at that time it was deemed that the "controversial strings" are in fact not offensive to the greater public interest and Internet users.[15]

With Regards to .gay, the IO notes that most objections are based on offense created on religious or socio-cultural norms that are not internationally shared or uniform and are not recognized in any international law. In fact, he notes a number of domestic and international laws that uphold non-discrimination, especially with regards to sexual identity and gender. He notes that LGBTQ rights have been spreading and becoming more of a understood and respected subject as time passes. He recognizes that some parties may continue to oppose or be offended by such identities and behavior but argues that a .gay TLD will create a clearly delineated space where those offending parties will know that the content will include gay-related material and can therefore avoid the offensive websites.[16]

Community Objections

CPEs and Requests for Reconsideration

In January 2015, a committee of ICANN's board of directors overturned a Community Priority Evaluation that initially rejected dotgay LLC's request for the .gay gTLD. Dotgay's CPE was turned down in October 2014 after the Economist Intelligence Unit deemed the company's proposed community was too broad to be described as "gay." This was because they consistently referenced the LGBTQIA community as their "gay" community, when in fact the wider community does not necessarily identify as "gay."[17] The announcement (PDF) by ICANN's Board Governance Committee, overturning the first CPE, states:

The BGC concludes that, upon investigation of Requester’s claims, the CPE Panel inadvertently failed to verify 54 letters of support for the Application and that this failure contradicts an established procedure. The BGC further concludes that the CPE Panel’s failure to comply with this established CPE procedure warrants reconsideration. Accordingly, the BGC determines that the CPE Panel Report shall be set aside, and that the EIU shall identify two different evaluators to perform a new CPE for the Application.

The EIU performed a new Community Priority Evaluation for dotgay's gTLD consideration.[18][19] The EIU reaffirmed the initial decision and came to the same conclusion as the first CPE reviewer. Stating:

The Panel has determined that more than a small part of the applicant’s defined community is not identified by the applied-for string, as described below, and that it therefore does not meet the requirements for Nexus....The Panel has determined that the applied-for string does not sufficiently identify some members of the applicant’s defined community, in particular transgender, intersex, and ally individuals.[20]

From there, dotgay LLC began using a a formal ICANN process to reevaluate and potentially overturn operational errors, which is the Request for Reconsideration. After failing at least 3 Requests for Reconsideration, finding no error in the process followed, ICANN's Board Governance Committee (BGC) issued a public statement via its chair, Chris Disspain. Mr. Disspain wrote:

"It should be noted that dotgay LLC has been through both the CPE and Reconsideration processes twice. After completion of the first CPE in October 2014, through the Reconsideration process, a procedural error in the CPE was identified and the BGC determined that the application should be re-evaluated. However, the same outcome and score were achieved both times.

..

I want to make clear that the denial of the Request for Reconsideration is not a statement about the validity of dotgay LLC's application or dotgay LLC's supporters.  The decision means that the BGC did not find that the CPE process for dotgay, LLC's .GAY application violated any ICANN policies or procedures."[21]

Q Center's Objection

On April 1, 2015, the Q Center, a community organization located in Portland, Oregon and only objector to Dotgay's bid, retracted its objection. The Q Center expressed that the prior board and management enacted the opposition and that the organization currently does not opposed Dotgay's bid, stating: "Until such time, please accept this notice as a request to void the opposition letter bearing the Q Center name."[22] The Q Center later retracted its retraction, noting that its second ruling on the matter was in response to lobbying by the Dotgay LLC's Jamie Baxer, they clarified the history, stating: "During that time Q Center was in a period of major transition and the board could not prioritize Mr. Baxter’s concerns. In the letter, the board did not retract Q Center’s original stance but instead stated that it would need time to review the situation before issuing an informed response."

Finally, in June 2015, the Q Center Board stood by its initial opposition to the dotgay LLC community bid, reiterating: "[W]e oppose the closed registration model and advocate that the term “gay,” while meaningful and representative of some members of our LGBTQ communities, does not adequately represent the diversity of sexual and gender minority communities and cultures as a whole."[23]

ILGA Objections

The International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) filed a community objection against every applicant other than dotgay LLC, and also filed an objection against .lgbt.[24] ILGA’s objections were filed on the grounds that Standard applications for strings associated with the gay community did not offer the appropriate protections to safeguard against abuse and misuse.

On November 16, 2013, ICDR Panelist Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schlink ruled in favor of the applicant in the 3 separate objections, which dismissed the objection against their applications for the .gay string and refunded their objection costs.[25]

Metroplex Republicans of Dallas Objection

Metroplex Republicans of Dallas filed a community objection against the dotgay LLC application.[26] The objection failed and was ruled on September 10th, 2013 by the panelist Bernhard Schlink to lack both standing and merits. According to Schlink, "while the conservative segment, with which Metroplex claims association, is a segment of the clearly delineated gay community, it is not a clearly delineated community in and of itself."[27]. Schlink also notes that “the application by dotgay for the string .GAY does not create a likelihood of material detriment to the rights or interests of the conservative segment of the LGBTQ community. Nothing in the operational model of the string .GAY casts doubt on dotgay's claim that the string .GAY will be operated in strict political neutrality.”[28]

GOProud, a gay lobby group, also filed a community objection against the dotgay LLC application, but it was rejected by the ICC for being over the word limit allowed for an objection. GOProud reached out to ICANN's Ombudsman Chris LaHatte who ruled it "unfair" and recommended that the Board permit the late filing of the objection with the correct word limit.[29][30]

References

  1. https://www.icann.org/resources/agreement/gay-2019-05-23-en .gay Registry Agreement, ICANN
  2. http://domainincite.com/23927-the-internet-is-about-to-get-a-lot-gayer .gay Auction, DomainIncite
  3. Neustar wins .gay contract
  4. About dotgay
  5. gTLD Application 1-1713-23699
  6. AuthenticationPatners, dotGay.comRetrieved 5 Dec 2012
  7. ICANNWiki boss applies for 10 gTLDs
  8. Top Level Domain Holdings Becomes Largest New gTLD Applicant To Date Applying For 68 Strings
  9. About Dot Gay Alliance
  10. Dot Gay Alliance Announces Plan To Create .GAY Web Address
  11. ICANN vs. the World
  12. Saudi Arabia opposes .gay internet domain name, bbc.com
  13. Independent Objector for New gTLD Program Selected. ICANN. Published 2012 May 14.
  14. Wanted: somebody to object to new gTLDs. Domain Incite. Published 2011 November 23. Retrieved 2012 November 15.
  15. The Independent Objectors Comments on Controversial Applications, Independent-Objector-NewgTLDs.orgRetrieved 8 Jan 2013
  16. Gay General Comment, Independent-Objector-NewgTLDs.org
  17. http://domainincite.com/17516-why-kicking-out-the-gay-community-was-right Why Kicking Out The Gay Community was Right, DomainIncite
  18. .gay is gay enough after all? ICANN overturns community panel decision, Domain Incite Retrieved 22 January 2015
  19. https://www.dailyxtra.com/will-dotgays-second-icann-panel-give-it-the-domain-it-seeks-66342 Will dotgays Second ICANN Panel give it the domain it seeks
  20. http://domainincite.com/19399-gay-flunks-community-review-for-second-time, Gay Flunks Community Review for Second Time, DomainIncite.com
  21. https://www.icann.org/news/blog/bgc-s-comments-on-recent-reconsideration-request BGCs Comments on Recent Reconsideration Request, ICANN.org
  22. www.bna.com Only Gay Community Group to Oppose Dotgay Bid for .gay TLD Reverses Position
  23. https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/oshea-to-chalaby-et-al-25jun15-en.pdf Oshea to Chalaby, QCenter Letter to ICANN 25 June 2015, ICANN Correspondence
  24. Pending Cases, ICCWBO.org Retrieved 14 May 2013
  25. Objection Determinations, ICANN.org Retrieved 02 Dec 2013
  26. Pending Cases, ICC.ICANN.orgRetrieved 15 May 2013
  27. First 3 Community Objections Decided - Domain InciteRetrieved 10 Sept 2013
  28. Expert Determinition, ICC
  29. Rejected .gay gTLD objection ruled “unfair”, Domain Incite Retrieved 13 August 2013
  30. Ombudsman Recommendation on Late Objection, OmBlogRetrieved 13 August 2013