Ever wondered how to keep suspected Russian submarines out of your territorial waters?
Never mind expensive naval hardware — Swedish peace activists have come up with a novel method: lowering a “Singing Sailor” device emitting a gay-friendly message via Morse code into the Baltic Sea.
The unlikely sounding device is the brainchild of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, which describes itself as the world’s oldest peace organization.
In an effort to combat military aggression and homophobia in one fell swoop, it’s created the “subsurface sonar system” to greet any Russian submariners who might find themselves lost in Swedish waters.
The animated neon sign 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” in both Russian and English, with the text “Gay since 1944” — a reference to the year that Sweden legalized homosexuality — added in English.
A Morse code message simultaneously calls out: “This way if you are gay.”
The headline-grabbing move is a response to the Swedish government’s stepped-up military efforts after a suspected Russian submarine incursion into Swedish waters last year.
Last month, the government proposed a defense bill that would see military spending grow by 11% over the next five years — the first such increase in more than two decades. The additional spending would allow “additional reinforcement of anti-submarine warfare capability,” among other measures, it said.
The activists’ move is also a comment on Russia’s perceived homophobia, centered on its “gay propaganda” law, which makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality. The law, passed in 2013, has been widely criticized not only by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates but also by Western leaders, who have called it archaic and discriminatory.
In a statement, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society invited any submarine crew — Swedish or foreign — that picked up the message to join them at Stockholm’s Gay Pride parade 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.
“If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict-resolution methods there would be peace in the world a long time ago,” added Anna Ek, the group’s president.