aNewDomain — What does a tolerant, non-aligned country of 10 million do when it is getting bullied by an intolerant, aggressive country of 144 million? If you’re Sweden, you give as good as you get.
In response to Russia’s parking a set of submarines along the Swedish coastline in October, a Swedish peace organization is sprinkling welcoming beacons along the seabed of the Swedish coast. The beacons, called Singing Sailors, are encouraging gay Russian sailors to defect to Sweden. Through the beacons, the Swedish group is continuously sending out a Morse Code message that translates as: “This Way If You Are Gay.”
It isn’t just a response to Russian naval incursions in Swedish waters, peace workers say. The group, The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, is also responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2013 controversial efforts to curtail Russian LGBT activities.
Every Singing Sailor beacon in the group’s so-called “Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System” carries the neon drawing shown above, a visual complement to the “This Way If You Are Gay” message it is sending out to subs.
The beacons have been installed in the sea in the archipelago due east of Stockholm where Russian submarines crossed into Swedish waters last fall. As you can see the pic, a note on the beacon blithely points out that LGBT activity in Sweden has been legal for more than 70 years. “Welcome to Sweden: Gay Since 1944,” it says. By contrast, homosexuality is legal in Russia but gay tolerance has waned in recent years.
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society has outlined its peace proposal in the video below.
Video credit: Operation The Singing Sailor from Swedish Peace on Vimeo
Who is the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society? SPAS is the world’s oldest and Scandinavia’s largest peace organization. Formed in 1883 by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Klas Pontus Arnoldson, SPAS is politically and religiously independent. It is a non-profit organization with approximately 7,500 members, the group says.
Sweden, of course, is a non-aligned country that has not gone to war since 1814. It isn’t a member of any defense alliance such as NATO, etiher, though the country has recently moved much closer to the Western European collective defense organization in the last few years.
In light of the Russian activities both in the sea around Sweden and in Swedish airspace, the Swedish government hasn’t put out any gay-friendly beacons chiding Russia for homophobic tendences. But it did recently opt for a sizeable increase in Swedish defense spending, a move directly related to the Russian incursions, officials have said.
The beacon, dubbed the Singing Sailor, is somewhat reminiscent of this Cold War Era classic by the Village People:
We’ll keep a watch on the Swedish coastline to see if any Russian sailors jump ship to join the Stockholm Pride festival in August 2015.
For aNewDomain, I’m Tom Ewing.