Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, the world’s oldest peace organization, has created a “subsurface sonar system”, Singing Sailor Underwater Defense System, to keep homophobic Russian submariners out of their queer-friendly waters. There hasn’t been any submarine intrusion since SPAS installed the Singing Sailor sign on April 27.
The animated neon sign, lowered into the water off the Stockholm Archipelago, shows a man wearing only a sailor’s hat and white underpants thrusting his hips, with little love hearts flashing. It bears the message: “Welcome to Sweden. Gay since 1944” – the year Sweden legalized homosexuality. A Morse code message simultaneously calls out: “This way if you are gay”.
In a statement, SPAS invited any submarine crew – Swedish or foreign – that picked up the message to join them at Stockholm’s Gay Pride parade scheduled in August. “In times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever. We want to break up with the violence,” said Daniel Holking, the society’s communications and fundraising manager.
The SPAS said the aim of the “singing sailor” was to “urge the Swedish government to think in new ways instead of falling back on territorial defense, conscription and rearmament – the world doesn’t need more weapons”. “If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict-resolution methods there would be peace in the world a long time ago,” said Anna Ek, the group’s president.
The “singing sailor” plays on alleged homophobia in Russia, where a law banning “homosexual propaganda among minors” was introduced in 2013. “The aim of the campaign is to try and take back the discussion to where it should be. Military rearmaments haven’t created stable peace. We have tried for many years and still we see wars and conflict. Some people may think it’s a bit silly but it’s also about making love, not war. It’s as simple as that,” Ek told The Huffington Post.
“We’re actually trying to create a mockery out of the idea that having countries and militaries with armaments pointing at each other is a sustainable way to live. If everyone just decided to resolve conflict with diplomacy or support for democratic developments and human rights, I’m pretty sure we’d see far less conflict in the world,” Ek added.
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