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Swedish group has neon, gay sonar message for Russian subs

"The Singing Sailor" is deployed in the waters off Stockholm, sending a very friendly message to any foreign subs that might pass its way.

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He might not look that intimidating from the waist up, but a Swedish group is betting he'll have an effect on Russian subs. The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society

Last October, the Swedish government sent a squadron of troops and military equipment off their shore to hunt for what was suspected to be a Russian submarine lurking under their sovereign waters. A group called the The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is concerned that this will lead the Swedish government to beef up its military, and wants to inspire people to consider alternatives.

At the end of April, SPAS said, the group deployed a gizmo called "The Singing Sailor." It's a waterproof box holding an electroluminescent sign and a continuous wave transmitter. The sign shows a neon sailor shaking his very tight tighty-whities (which they call the white flag) back and forth, along with the message: "Welcome to Sweden, Gay Since 1944" printed in Russian and English. 1944 is the year in which Sweden decriminalized homosexuality. The box also sends out a Morse code message via sonar that says: "This way if you are gay."

The concept of the campaign seems to be poking fun at -- and criticizing -- Russia's increasingly homophobic political climate, perhaps suggesting that if Swedish waters are obviously "gay-friendly" Russian subs will steer clear. But SPAS says its purpose is to influence its own government away from becoming a more militaristic state, and instead to "think in new ways."

SPAS President Anna Ek argued in a press release, "If military actions and weapons had functioned as conflict-resolution methods there would be peace in the world a long time ago."