Sweden: 'Gay sailor' sign to ward off foreign submarines

The singing sailor sign Image copyright Svenska Freds
Image caption The bottom of the sign refers to Sweden as "gay since 1944" - the year it legalised homosexuality

A Swedish peace group has come up with an unusual way of trying to repel Russian submarines.

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) says it has installed an underwater "defence system" known as the Singing Sailor in the waters off Stockholm. Described as a subsurface sonar system, the installation features the words "Welcome to Sweden" in Russian, and emits the phrase "this way if you are gay" in Morse code. The animated neon sign features a man clad in white underpants and a sailor hat, gyrating his hips as pink hearts flash behind him. It seems the group is playing on the rise in homophobia in Russia since the adoption of a law banning "gay propaganda" in 2013.

But the society, which was formed in 1883, says the sign is also a way to try to persuade the Swedish authorities to rethink using military means for national security. In October, Sweden launched a huge military operation to search its waters for a suspected Russian submarine, and the government recently announced a massive increase in military spending. "If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict-resolution methods, there would be peace in the world a long time ago," says SPAS president Anna Ek. Instead, the organisation says it's inviting any submariners who spot the sign to join them at the Stockholm Pride parade in August, noting on its website: "In times of unrest, love and peace across boundaries is more important than ever."

Image copyright Svenska Freds
Image caption The singing sailor sign has been dropped into the waters east of Stockholm

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