Annual Review 2011
The Swedish Federation for Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) dealt with approximately 70 LGBT asylum cases and continued to note that the asylum procedures were not consistently followed. Various applicants who have well founded legal claims are being denied asylum, cases are regularly appealed and retried, and it is not uncommon for a person to be granted asylum on a third hearing after two denials.
Bias motivated speech
During an undercover report for the Swedish television, chapter leaders of the Salvation Army were recorded expressing a variety of views describing same-sex sexual activity as a sin, and off ering to ask God to free the reporter from the condition. Moreover, the reporter found that the Junior Soldier’s Promise lesson book included passages saying that children and young people should learn that homosexuality is wrong. The Salvation Army claimed that the material was under review and a new version was produced in 2011 which no longer contained the discriminatory texts. The Minister responsible for deciding which faith communities in Sweden receive grants from the State, Christian Democrat Stefan Attefall, did not consider that the report gave cause for reconsidering State funding for the Salvation Army. Several churches and Muslim congregations in Sweden consider homosexuality a sin and do not allow LGBT people into the congregation; they too continued to receive State funding.
Bias motivated violence
- Swedish authorities collect detailed statistics on hate crime, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic crime, with hundreds of cases being reported each year. The levels of violence varied across the country; RFSL noted that some of their branches collected much higher violence incidence rates than others.
- For the first time, Stockholm Pride chose not to charge an attendance fee to the public. Unfortunately, this gave room to homophobic and transphobic individuals to enter and mix with the attendees and subsequently there were several reports of homophobic and transphobic attacks.
In January, a lesbian pastor who was passed over for a job with a diocese in central Sweden, lodged a case for discrimination. She applied for a temporary position with the diocese in Strängnäs to fi ll a position which had been vacant for a while and was being covered by a retired pastor in his seventies. During her application process, the vicar made comments to a diocesan employee which suggested he would not employ the pastor because of her sexual orientation. The applicant learnt about this and made a formal complaint. The case was sent to the Ombudsman who in turn referred it to the trade union.
Legal gender recongition
There was an increase in discussion of the issue of forced sterilisation of those who wish to change their legal gender, and this was considered one of the main political issues for RFSL. Interest from mainstream media ensured visibility for the topic which enabled RFSL to work for change at the political level.
Participation in public/political life
- In March, Anton Hysén became the first professional Swedish male footballer to come out. He did so in an interview with the Swedish football monthly Off side, in which he called on fellow gay footballers to take a stand for tolerance. His stand was supported by the Swedish Football Association which hoped that more gay footballers would be encouraged to talk openly about their sexuality. RFSL confirmed that homophobia remains a barrier within sport in Sweden and commended Hysén’s stand. He received full public support from his father, Glenn Hysén, a former footballer with Liverpool and Fiorentina who was also the opening speaker at Stockholm Pride in 2007. Sadly, after an interview with him, a major Swedish football website was forced to shut off its comments function after numerous homophobic comments were posted.
- Kajsa Bergqvist, one of Sweden´s most famous athletes, a former professional high jumper, declared that she has a girlfriend, and also calls herself a lesbian.
Police and law enforcement
In November, the Skåne County Police Force said it would not be taking disciplinary action against an officer who had described “gays” as “a cancer on society.” The comment had been made to a recruit in reference to a lesbian colleague who is a hate crimes educator within the Skåne Police. The educator, who had worked on the force for 20 years, overheard the comment, in which the male officer also said that he disapproved of “her lifestyle” and made a number of biblical references. The police force decided not to take disciplinary action saying it could not establish exactly what had been said between the female recruit and the police offi cer in question. It did nonetheless consider that the severity of the language used demanded that the man’s superior officer talk to him.