• 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
'Dildo T-shirt' photo defended by Swedish newspaper
Does this really look like a dildo? Photo: Peter Palmquist

'Dildo T-shirt' photo defended by Swedish newspaper
0 minutes ago

Can you see a dildo in this photo?

The Local Guide
Who is the shy Swede behind all those global smash hits?
Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Katy Perry. Photo: Matt Sayles/Chris Pizzello/Felipe Dana/AP/Invision

Who is the shy Swede behind all those global smash hits?
1 hour ago

You may not know his name, but you have definitely heard his music. This is Max Martin, the Swede behind your favourite pop hits.

Teenager arrested after asylum housing stabbing
Swedish police investigating a different crime. Johan Nilsson/TT

Teenager arrested after asylum housing stabbing
3 hours ago

A 17-year-old is being held after a man was left seriously injured following a stabbing in Västervik in southern Sweden.

Swedish hitmaker Max Martin takes home top music prize
Swedish producer Max Martin. Photo: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Swedish hitmaker Max Martin takes home top music prize
4 hours ago

Introducing the 2016 winners of Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize.

Border checks
Swedish coast guard prepares for spring refugee dockings
The Swedish coast guard in action this week. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Swedish coast guard prepares for spring refugee dockings
6 hours ago

Staff say it will become more difficult to patrol waters between Sweden and Denmark when locals start sailing for pleasure in the spring.

The Local List
Six tales that prove romance is far from dead in Sweden
Could your Swedish romance start like this? Photo: Ulf Lundin/Image Bank Sweden

Six tales that prove romance is far from dead in Sweden
6 hours ago

Dating can be tough in Sweden, but love stories still exist, so if you're single ahead of Valentine's Day, read this!

Julian Assange
Will Swedish prosecutors question Assange in London?
Julian Assange at Ecuador's London embassy. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Will Swedish prosecutors question Assange in London?
13 hours ago

UPDATED: Julian Assange's lawyer has said he "cannot answer today" if the Wikileaks founder will agree to let Swedish prosecutors interrogate him at Ecuador's embassy.

The Local List
Five reasons why Malmö is Sweden's happiest city
Malmö in southern Sweden. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Five reasons why Malmö is Sweden's happiest city
13 hours ago

Malmö is Europe's seventh happiest city, according to a new survey. The Local takes a closer look at five possible reasons why.

Refugee crisis
Polish far-right linked to Sweden 'migrant attack plot'
Nynäshamn south of Stockholm, where the arrests took place. Photo: Wikicommons/Pewee

Polish far-right linked to Sweden 'migrant attack plot'
14 hours ago

UPDATED: Police have linked three men arrested on suspicion of planning an attack at refugee housing in a rural town near Stockholm to a vigilante protest in the Swedish capital last month.

Terror fears secure profit for Sweden's Securitas
Police at Stockholm central station after Sweden raised its terror threat alert. Photo: Yvonne Åsell/SvD/TT

Terror fears secure profit for Sweden's Securitas
23 hours ago

Europe's leading security firm has reported rising profits on the back of several terror scares in the region.

Sponsored Article
How to set up shop in the 'Silicon Valley of Sweden'
Travel
Why are people so happy in Malmö?
Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
Less than one percent of Swedish crimes linked to refugees
Features
Single? Here are the ten Swedish words you have to learn
Blog updates

9 February

Förr, förut, förrän, före and … innan! (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! A long time ago, I got this question: It would be a huge help if you could…" READ »

 

5 February

Editor’s blog, February 5th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, A friend of mine wrote from abroad this week to ask me if international media…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Swiss hospitality: The ladder to your international career
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Lindesberg, Örebro
Sponsored Article
Ice magic at north Sweden island lodges
Lifestyle
VIDEO: What's the fuss about Sweden's semla bun?
Culture
Ten fab Swedish hits for February
Finest
Gallery
People-watching: February 6th-7th
Sponsored Article
Just landed? Here's the secret to finding work in Stockholm
Travel
Stockholm's eight REAL no-go zones
Sponsored Article
Stockholm's secret ski resort: Kungsberget
Gallery
People-watching: February 3rd
National
'How confronting the man who robbed me gave me closure'
Sponsored Article
Luleå: 8 winter must-dos in Sweden's far north
Analysis & Opinion
DEBATE: Why are Swedes so obsessed with Nordic skiing?
Culture
See which Swedish museums are now opening up for free
Gallery
Property of the week: Insjön, Nacka
National
VIDEO: Tensions caught on camera inside Swedish asylum home
Gallery
People-Watching: January 29th - 31st
International
How will Sweden deport up to 80,000 failed asylum seekers?
Sport
When you gotta go... Swedish racing dog does poo and then takes gold
Sport
Guess who just got a HUGE pay rise?
Travel
WATCH: Five top tips for safe ice skating on Sweden's gorgeous lakes
Gallery
People-watching: January 27th
National
'Sweden could be at war within years'
Gallery
Property of the week: Öjersbo, Kungsbacka
International
Why is the Pope coming to Sweden?
3,415
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se