Late last year, Swedish authorities were perturbed by signs that a foreign submarine had entered their waters. Worse still, many suspected that these submarines were Russian. It was a worrying reminder of Cold War-era aggression and perhaps a signal of Moscow's newly provocative stance.
Sweden is not a member of NATO and spends a relatively small amount on its military. How could it hope to deter the Russian navy on its own? The answer, according to one Swedish group, is simple: The Swedes must send out gay propaganda via Morse code.
On Monday, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS), a group dedicated to the study and promotion of peace, released details of their plan in a video on their Web site.
In the video, a neon sign featuring a topless sailor is lowered into the waters where the rogue submarines were spotted. The sign also sends out a Morse code message to the surrounding area: "This way if you are gay."
"Welcome to Sweden. Gay since 1944," the sign also reads, referring to the date when Sweden made homosexuality legal.
The video is, of course, a not-so-subtle reference to Russia's treatment of its homosexual community, and the notorious "gay propaganda" laws that have sparked protest in Russia and beyond over the past few years. One of the laws sought to prohibit the education of children about "non-traditional sexual relations."
"If there is a submarine down there and there is a crew member who hears or sees the sailor, they are welcome to join us in the Pride Parade on August 1 in Stockholm," Daniel Holking, head of fundraising and communications at SPAS, said in a statement. "In times of unrest love and peace across borders is even more important than usual."
The "singing sailor" also carries an important domestic message. SPAS hopes it will serve as a reminder to the Swedish government that there are creative ways to deal with potential threats. "There are many modern examples in the world of how conflicts can be resolved without military intervention," Anna Ek, president of SPAS, said.
Whether that message will be heard is unclear. In March, Sweden announced that it would increase military spending in direct response to what it saw as a more aggressive Russia, reversing years of budget cuts in the Scandinavian nation. Sweden would also place a permanent deployment of troops on the Swedish island of Gotland, which is located just 155 miles from Kaliningrad, Russia's European enclave.