ICANN Controversially Rejects .GAY Community Application Again

ICANN new generic Top Level Domains logoICANN has rejected the community application for .gay by dotgay LLC again because it wasn’t deemed to be community enough. The application has been through the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) and reconsideration processes twice.

The decision is bound to be controversial and means that now the applicants will have to negotiate with the other three applicants if they wish to proceed. And if they cannot come resolve the contention, then the four applications for .gay will be scheduled to participate in an ICANN-facilitated “method of last resort” auction to resolve the contention. And this is something this community group is highly unlikely to win since it will come down to who is prepared to stump up the most money.

The other three applicants are Top Level Design, United TLD Holdco and Top Level Domain Holdings.

Writing on the ICANN blog, Chris Disspain, Chair of ICANN’s Board Governance Committee (BGC) says that:
Of the four entities applying for the .GAY TLD, dotgay LLC’s application was the only community application, and therefore the only application eligible to seek community priority through CPE. If an application achieves community priority, it is then able to move forward towards contracting, and the other applications will no longer proceed. dotgay LLC’s .GAY application did not achieve community priority so it continues to compete with the other three applications.

It should be noted that dotgay LLC has been through both the CPE and Reconsideration processes twice. After completion of the first CPE in October 2014, through the Reconsideration process, a procedural error in the CPE was identified and the BGC determined that the application should be re-evaluated. However, the same outcome and score were achieved both times.

The BGC, which is responsible for evaluating such requests, is limited by the Bylaws in evaluating this Request for Reconsideration. Specifically, the BGC is only authorized to determine if any policies or processes were violated during CPE. The BGC has no authority to evaluate whether the CPE results are correct.

I want to make clear that the denial of the Request for Reconsideration is not a statement about the validity of dotgay LLC’s application or dotgay LLC’s supporters. The decision means that the BGC did not find that the CPE process for dotgay, LLC’s .GAY application violated any ICANN policies or procedures.

Commenting on the BGC’s decision, Constantine Roussos who is behind one of the eight applicants for .music, is highly critical of the decision writing that “it seems mistakes have been made.” Roussos writes “there’s no policy requiring an organization to represent a community in its entirety. CPE rules permit an ‘entity mainly dedicated to the community.’ ‘Mainly’ does not mean entirety. ‘Mainly could imply that the entity administering the community may have additional roles/functions.'”

Roussos goes on to cite several inconsistencies with ICANN’s decision and is concerned about what ICANN will decide on his .music application where there are seven other applicants. He writes “the music community is biting its nails waiting for the .MUSIC CPE decision (which clearly exceeds CPE criteria. … CPE is the most frustrating, unpredictable process in ICANN’s history. Community applicants have worked diligently for years to meet the criteria and gather support. No doubt ICANN staff is working hard on the subject matter but decisions seem to be a coin toss. This lack of transparency, accountability and predictability is frustrating for community applicants relying on ICANN rules.”