The court decided that the restaurant owner discriminated against Susanna Gustafsson on the grounds of her sexuality and overturned the original district court decision.
“This is fantastic, wonderful,” said Gustafsson. “This judgement shows that we have just as much right to show each other affection and love as people of different genders have in society.”
In July 2003 Susanna Gustafsson and her girlfriend were in Fridhem, a restaurant in the Kungsholmen area of Stockholm, with friends. Apparently the couple were kissing and cuddling at the table when the owner approached them and demanded that they leave the restaurant.
The next day, Susanna Gustafsson, who is chairman of gay rights group RFSL, reported the restaurant to the police.
“Having lived with a man before and never experienced anything like it, I was obviously shocked and angry,” she told Dagens Nyheter.
The restaurant owner said that he would have thrown out a heterosexual couple who had been behaving in the same way. In February 2004 Stockholm district court found in his favour, arguing that there was no evidence to prove that it was discrimination.
Then HomO, Sweden’s ombudsman for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, took up the case and sued the restaurant on Susanna Gustafsson’s behalf. The administrative court also found in the restaurant’s favour.
Meanwhile, Susanna Gustafsson had appealed against the earlier judgement and this time, according to Swedish Radio, the court interpreted the law differently: since Gustafsson had reason to believe she was discriminated against, the onus was on the restaurant owner to prove otherwise.
The latest decision delighted the ombudsman, Hans Ytterberg, who told Svenska Dagbladet that the case was important and would have a significant impact on how the discrimination law would be interpreted in future.
“The verdict makes it clear that discrimination is a serious crime and that it costs to discriminate against someone,” he said.
The restaurant owner’s legal representative was the ubiquitous Leif Silbersky, who said that his client would probably appeal.
But in the meantime, Susanna Gustafsson – who had initially demanded 120,000 kronor in compensation – said that she hoped this would “give more people the courage to show their love”.
“The judgement is much more important than the money,” said Gustafsson.
“But to celebrate with a holiday on the Greek island of Lesbos might be suitable.”