The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is currently considering whether to grant around 1409 generic top-level domains (gTLDs), but opposition to some of the more controversial applications are already pouring in.
CNN has reported that Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has filed objections to 31 of these, mainly directed at sexual or religious names, including the .gay and .sex names.
In one such comment on the .gay gTLD, the commission stated that ICANN should not be trying to impose western society's views of homosexuality on the rest of the world by allowing this domain:
If "gay" is an accepted activity in USA, it does not mean it is also accepted or welcomed elsewhere. ICANN should not enforce western culture and values into other societies. It should not ignore other society's values. If the new gTLD programs had been limited to the United States, the homeland of ICANN, then it might be accepted to have the applied-for gTLDs strings (.gay). In spite of this, even if these strings (.gay) represent a permitted western standard of expressions, ICANN should not impose it globally upon the rest of the world. ICANN should not ignore the fact that activities related to this string are considered [a] criminal act or unlawful in some parts of the world. Furthermore, ICANN should stick to GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) principles that call for respecting the sensitivity regarding terms with national, cultural, geographic and religious significance.
The applied-for gTLD string (gay) is not welcomed in many societies and communities and is against the law and public morality. ICANN should work for the benefit of all societies. It should not indulge itself in prompting and expanding western culture on the internet. If it is really desired and needed in the ICANN home community (USA), then it can be provided under the .us TLD (eg, gay.us) but not in the worldwide root space.
Saudi Arabia isn't the only entity complaining. There are also a few "morals" groups opposed to domains like .sex, because they say it's just going to be used for pornography.
While I doubt that anyone buying a .sex domain is going to be using it for sunshine and lollipops (unless there's a fetish that I'm unaware of), I think that opposition to certain domains on the grounds of morality is probably missing the point.
Those who are opposed to sites ending in .gay or .sex just shouldn't go there. No one is forcing you to visit these sites.
I think the real concern with bringing in a .gay gTLD is that what we may end up with is online discrimination that's too easily achieved. Essentially, any country (say, Saudi Arabia) that brings in an internet filter could just block all access to any website ending in .gay, and thus prevent their citizens from accessing a swag of websites. In a country where homosexuality is oppressed, sometimes the internet is a person's only escape. Having this escape blocked so easily could hurt those people.
Most of the objections to top-level domains that I've seen so far have been pretty mundane, otherwise. Objections have been raised because a name might be confused with something else, like the objection to CommBank's .cba by Cordoba, Argentina. The Royal Australian Navy's objection to .navy and .oldnavy, is based on a claim that they breach Australian law. It'll be interesting to see which complaints ICANN takes on-board, and which are rejected out of hand. Comments are open until 26 September, so let us know if you come across any intriguing objections.