• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation

Solveig Rundquist · 31 Jul 2014, 17:22

Published: 31 Jul 2014 17:22 GMT+02:00

"We know that different human races actually do not exist," Swedish Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag told Sveriges Television (SVT). 

"We also know that the fundamental grounds of racism are based on the belief that there are different races, and that belonging to a race makes people behave in a certain way, and that some races are better than others."

SEE ALSO: The Local interviews Erik Ullenhag about removing 'race' from Swedish law

The concept of race is included in around 20 Swedish laws, including criminal code, student financial aid laws, and credit information laws. On Thursday the Swedish government began an investigation into how to remove the concept from all legislation, as has been done in Austria and Finland.

"Legislation should not include the word race, if we argue that there are not actually races," Ullenhag said. "I have wanted to remove the concept of race for a long time."

Oscar Pripp, associate professor of ethnology at Uppsala University, welcomed the idea. He said that the concept of race is necessary to understand people's social behaviour, but that it is not necessary in law. 
 
"It sounds rather sensible," Pripp told The Local. "Not to scrap the word entirely, but that it should not be included as a concept in legislation, because then you're saying that there are indeed different races."
 
Pripp went on to say that race in and of itself does not exist, but is rather something that is "done" in society, such as in the labour market, housing market, and other areas. 

The proposal has come under sharp criticism, however, from the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvensarnas Riksförbund, ASR).

"This scientific racism that Ullenhag is focused on, when he says that racism is based on believing in different races, is not true," Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the ASR, told The Local.
 
"How many people in Sweden really think that way? Maybe 100. That's not the problem. Racism existed before the concept of race biology. Scientific racism is just one chapter in the story of race and racism."
 
Sabuni concurred that race is a social construction, but from there his views diverged.
 
"Just because it's a social construction doesn't mean it's not a reality," Sabuni said. "For us, this is just trying to take away the possibility to even talk about it. It's critical."
 
 
Sabuni said the government's plan would be a serious roadblock in the fight against racism. He also stressed that those impacted by racism should be consulted before such a decision is taken.
 
"How can you apply for a grant for fighting racism if the concept of race doesn't exist in legislation? Racism will disappear de facto from the agenda. The government is lost in a fantasy, a fantasy which counteracts effective work against racism."
Story continues below…
 
The government has assigned chief district court Judge Erica Hemtke the task of investigating the issue, as well as looking into expanding protection of transgender people in Swedish legislation. Both assignments should be completed by December 7th, 2015.
 
Click here to read The Local's follow-up interview with Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag about the decision.
 
Solveig Rundquist
Follow Solveig on Twitter

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ibrahimovic makes United debut in front of Swedes
Ibrahimovic endured a terrible Euro 2016. Photo: TT

”Everybody has been waiting for this,” says Mr Modesty.

Sweden to investigate citizens' sex lives
It has been 20 years since the last in-depth study of the sex habits of Swedes. Photo: Tammy McGary/Flickr

The Swedish government is to launch a major study of the sex lives of its citizens after reports that lovemaking is on the wane.

Russian 'terror suspect' held at Swedish airport walks free
File photo of Arlanda Airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

UPDATED: A 35-year-old man has been released from police custody after being arrested at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm on Friday morning.

Northern Dispatches
'Moving to northern Sweden was the best thing we've done'
Photo: FB

In his farewell column, The Local’s northern Sweden correspondent, Paul Connolly, looks back at his first four years in Sweden.

Bear family just hanging out on Swedish golf course
Not the bear cub in question. But isn't he cute? Photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

A bear family has been roaming a Swedish golf course, and the best thing of all is that no one cares.

The Local investigates
What do we actually know about the violence in Malmö?
Police investigating an explosion in Malmö on Thursday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

International media have presented a "distorted" view of a spate of Malmö shootings and an explosion, a senior police boss has told The Local.

The Local List
Reasons why Stockholm Pride is simply awesome
Photo: Annika af Klercker/TT.

Stockholm's Pride festival culminates on Saturday with a parade – and more than a few parties. Here's why we think it's pretty amazing.

Cashless Swedes sitting on old bills worth billions

Old Swedish bank notes worth 1.4 billion kronor are still circulating, according to the country’s central bank, despite them having been declared invalid a month ago.

Homes
In pictures: Why is Nordic design so hot right now?
Scandinavian design. Photo: House of Beatniks

Design agency Studio Esinam investigates together with Houzz.se why the world is falling in love with Nordic style.

Stockholm one of world's best places to live: magazine
Living the dream. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Stockholm is the tenth best city in the world to live in, reckons this British magazine.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Swedish cop makes arrest of the year
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Anyone for a bite of 340-year-old shipwrecked stinky cheese?
Gallery
People-watching: July 27th
Blog updates

26 July

A summer of change; a summer of beauty (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"You would have had to try hard to miss the political upheavals in the UK after…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
Politics
Why Sweden's high taxes are not as high as you think
Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
National
What's haggis in a condom doing on Swedish children's TV?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,391
jobs available