Europride: ‘A lot of prejudice remains’

The Pride festival that started in Stockholm on Friday has become one of the biggest parties in the Swedish capital's calender. But there is a serious side to the festivities - a lot of work remains to combat prejudice in Sweden and abroad.

Europride: 'A lot of prejudice remains'
EU Minister Cecilia Malmström (right) at the opening of Europride.

The rainbow flags that have been raised across Stockholm are a reminder that this year the Swedish capital is hosting Europride. Museums and galleries across the city are hosting exhibitions with a LGBT theme and Skansen will, for the first time, host a HBT wedding ceremony.

Pride festivals are being organized in several cities across the world but it is far from everywhere that rainbow flags are raised and politicians make inaugural speeches and much work remains to combat prejudice according to Pride organisers. This year Stockholm Pride is running a theme entitled “Swedish sin – breaking borders”.

“This theme has two purposes, one is to show pride over what we have achieved in Sweden with regard to LGBT-people’s rights. At the same time we want to highlight the problems faced by LGBT-people in eastern Europe where there is widespread harassment or bans against Pride events,” said Pride chairperson Jonah Nylund.

EU minister Cecilia Malmström was one of the speakers at the opening of the festival at Skansen. She spoke about the view of LGBT issues among European politicians.

“It varies very much. In the EU parliament there is a strong will to work for these rights but there are also of course some extremely homophobic people. A lot of prejudice remains,” she said.

News agency TT asked Malmström what Swedish politicians can do to influence this.

“Prejudices and attitudes are the most difficult to get at, legislation is easier. It is through demonstration, constant reminders, through organisations, authorities and from individual politicians that pressure can be brought to bear,” said Cecilia Malmström, who has herself joined the Pride march in Warsaw.

“But even in Sweden there is a great deal left to do,” according to Pride chairperson Jonah Nylund.

“We still have a problem with negative attitudes in Sweden which means that people are unable to be open with their sexual orientation or identity at work. Even if attitudes have generally changed for the better there remains a great deal left to do,” he said.