• Sweden's news in English
 

Race to be scrapped from Swedish legislation

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."
 
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 stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Solveig Rundquist (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Taxman: Cosmetic surgery is not deductible
Winners of the Miss Plastic Hungary beauty pageant. If they lived in Sweden they would not be able to make deductions for breast implants, nose jobs or face lifts. Photo: AP/TT

Taxman: Cosmetic surgery is not deductible

With next Monday the deadline for filing tax returns, Swedes will try to get the taxman to cover the cost of everything from milk to plastic surgery, explains a tax agency worker who has seen it all. READ  

My Swedish Career
Building my Swedish lego dream brick by brick
James Gill in his lego shop. Photo: The Local/Bobbie Carlson

Building my Swedish lego dream brick by brick

James Gill was working as a chef in the UK when he one day decided to combine his two passions in life: Sweden and Lego. The Local's reporter Bobbie Carlson visited his shop in Stockholm - and discovered that there is far more to the famous children's toy than meets the eye. READ  

Head rolls in Sweden’s private jets scandal
Anders Nyrén attends SCA's annual general meeting in Stockholm on April 15th 2015. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT.

Head rolls in Sweden’s private jets scandal

A major corporate scandal involving the “excessive” use of private jets claimed a fresh victim on Monday as the main owners of investment giant Industrivärden blocked the under-fire CEO Anders Nyrén from taking over as chairman. READ  

US rap mogul Jay Z defends Tidal venture
Jay Z's got 99 problems but Tidal ain't one. Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

US rap mogul Jay Z defends Tidal venture

Rapper Jay Z has defended his Tidal streaming service as viable and a boon to artists after a much-criticized start to the revamped company has given its main Swedish rivals at Spotify little cause for concern. READ  

Nepal earthquake
Swedes join earthquake rescue efforts in Nepal
Residents rescue items from the debris of a house damaged in Saturday's earthquake in Nepal. Photo: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

Swedes join earthquake rescue efforts in Nepal

An expert team from Sweden is set to travel to Nepal on Monday to help with a search and rescue operation following a devastating earthquake which is believed to have claimed 3,200 lives so far. READ  

Rush-hour chaos for Swedish rail commuters
It's not the first time train delays cause headaches for Swedish commuters. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Rush-hour chaos for Swedish rail commuters

A faulty railway switch in Stockholm was expected to cause rush-hour headaches for travellers across Sweden on Monday morning after several trains were cancelled and others diverted. READ  

Sweden to enjoy tourism boom this summer
Photo: Måns Fornander/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden to enjoy tourism boom this summer

Tourism in Sweden is increasing rapidly with foreign tourists expected to spend a total of 115 billion kronor ($13.3 billion) this year, according to an industry forecast. READ  

Authorities free Swedish hostages in Syria
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Authorities free Swedish hostages in Syria

Two Swedish men held hostage in Syria have been released with the help of Jordanian and Palestinian authorities, Sweden's foreign ministry said Saturday. READ  

Swedes risk double tax over pension change
The 'orange envelope' containing annual pension statements. Photo: TT

Swedes risk double tax over pension change

Many Swedes risk paying double tax on their savings following changes to private pensions rules, experts warn. READ  

Christian Democrats elect first female leader
Photo: TT

Christian Democrats elect first female leader

Sweden’s Christian Democrats on Saturday unanimously elected Ebba Busch Thor as the party’s leader, replacing Göran Hägglund. At 28, she’s the youngest person to ever lead a Swedish party in parliament. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
VIDEO: How did these Swedish cops become New York heroes?
Business & Money
Five crucial things you need to know before you move to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: April 25th
National
What's on in Sweden: April 23rd - 30th
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
How the Stockholm School of Economics changes expat lives
Blog updates

24 April

Editor’s blog, April 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Spring has well and truly arrived, as evidenced by the start of strawberry season. The..." READ »

 

15 April

Gång, timme, tid & dags (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! In this article I will talk about “gång”, “timmar”, “dags” and “tid”, because they all translate..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Brits in Sweden face NHS black hole
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sex?
Business & Money
The Swedish regions where you're least likely to stay jobless
Gallery
People-watching: April 22nd
Sport
Sweden's Eriksson joins row over foreign England player quotas
National
MEP says ignoring migrant crisis like 'Sweden's Holocaust appeasement'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Swedish mining town that's being moved
National
How much would you pay for first Swedish strawberries of 2015?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
Photo: TT
National
Get set for a sunny week in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Does far-north Sweden have to punch above its weight?
National
Refugees in Sweden fear for families lost at sea
National
Syria claims ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders are Scandinavian
Gallery
People-watching: April 18th
National
Swedish researchers pore over link between coffee and cancer
Features
What you can buy in Sweden for the price of a London shed
National
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Swedes launch first donut into space
Politics
Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democratic welfare politics?
National
Mamma Mia! Abba entertainment venue set to open in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: April 15th
National
Why Sweden is top place in the world for expats to raise children
National
Swedish 'submarine' was civilian boat
National
Why has a US town got pulled into a Swedish spelling row?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hovås, Gothenburg
National
What does Zlatan think of his ban?
National
Swedish teenagers help rebuild Breivik massacre island
National
Would you live in a steel box?
National
How an act of kindness by one Syrian immigrant went viral
Gallery
People-watching: April 8th
National
Swedish bids for Billboard fame
National
Swedish monkeys denied Saudi visas
National
Sunny spring weather predicted
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
National
Half of Swedes want begging ban
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Why are expats less likely to settle down with Swedes?
Sport
What does Sweden think of Zlatan's recent outburst?
Society
Get to grips with Sweden's most bizarre Easter traditions
Gallery
People-watching: April 1st
National
The Local's best April Fools' gags
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,310
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
?>