The debate was attended by leaders of all the parties, except for prime minister Göran Persson. To mark their disapproval, organizers RFSL declared that no other Social Democrat would be allowed to take his place.
In quick fire questioning, where each leader had to give their response in less than a minute, Hägglund was the only one not to tell the audience what they wanted to hear. His party says marriage should only be allowed for a man and a woman, and that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt – opinions that won him boos and heckles from the audience.
“I was prepared for boos, but I did not want to change my message just because I was here,” Hägglund said after the two-hour session at a school in Stockholm’s Södermalm.
If Hägglund’s message didn’t please the audience, he found his exact opposite in the shape of the Feminist Initiative’s Gudrun Schyman. She received enthusiastic applause when she said that her party would fight heterosexual men’s dominance over other groups.
The differences between the left and right blocs were made clear when the leaders were asked how far, on a scale of one to five, they agreed or disagreed with certain statements. On many questions Schyman, the Left Party’s Lars Ohly and the Greens’ Maria Wetterstrand were in agreement.
The three parties agreed that children should be able to have more than two legal guardians, that marriage legislation should be gender-neutral and that it would be OK if they had a 7-year old son who went to school in a skirt.
The right-wing bloc was less united. Hägglund, The Liberals’ Lars Leijonborg and the Moderates’ Fredrik Reinfeldt all gave a five when asked whether they agreed with the statement “I am very hetero,” but were less united on other questions.
The Christian Democrats were isolated on a number of questions, with the other Alliance parties often closer to the left bloc than to Göran Hägglund.
The June List’s Nils Lundgren said it would be all right to let a 7-year old son go to school in a skirt, and Maud Olofsson agreed that there should be more openly gay staff at nursery schools. Both Olofsson and Liejonborg said they wanted marriage rights to be the same for homosexuals as for heterosexuals.