Borås ‘best place to be gay’ in Sweden

It might not be up there with San Francisco and Sydney on the list of international gay destinations, but Borås is the best place in Sweden for gay, bisexual and transgendered people to live. That's according to a new survey by Swedish gay organization RFSL.

The survey looked at how local authorities approach gay issues and how well-developed the commercial gay scene is in different parts of Sweden. According to RFSL, these are the criteria that determine whether a place is a good place for gay people to live.

Borås was followed in the rankings by Gothenburg, Stockholm, Lund and Malmö, with isolated communities in the Kalmar, Jönköping and Norrbotten areas coming in last.

The gay scene in Borås, 60 kilometres east of Gothenburg and with a population of around 60,000, appears limited. Swedish gay site QX listed RFSL’s own gay night on Saturdays as the only gay disco in town. The survey did not take into account the fact that the town gave gay Sweden – and pop lovers across Sweden – Magnus Carlsson and Shirley Clamp.

But the town made up extra points thanks to programmes for increased ‘HBT (homosexual, bisexual and transgender) awareness’. One such scheme was a programme to educate Borås Council’s staff in HBT questions. This included everyone from park wardens to social workers, a total of 9,000 people in the town.

Left Party councillor Lennart Andreasson proposed the initiative. He told RFSL’s K-Online magazine that he hoped it would have effects beyond the council’s own employees.

“If you can increase understanding among 9,000 people so it will hopefully spread in their families and friendship groups, and mean big changes in the long run,” he said.

RFSL also gave Borås high marks for low incidence of hate crimes, high awareness of gay and lesbian issues among politicians, and good education about gay issues in the town’s schools.

“Councils need to take responsibility for all groups in society,” said RFSL chairman Sören Andersson.

“Without knowledge about the situations of different groups and how these need to be dealt with, politics and the system devalue homosexual, bisexual and trans-people and make them invisible.” he said.

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