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Tax agency rejects Swedes' Michael Jackson naming tribute

TT/David Landes · 29 Jul 2009, 07:28

Published: 29 Jul 2009 07:28 GMT+02:00

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The parents, who hail from Tjörn in western Sweden, could think of no better way of keeping Michael Jackson’s memory alive than by giving their newborn daughter the name of the recently deceased music icon, TV4 reports.

But the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), which oversees the approval and registration of names in the country’s national population registry, rejected the couple’s request.

According to the agency, it is inappropriate to give a girl a name which has been well-established as a name for boys.

The rejection comes despite the parents’ wishes to have Michael be one of their daughter’s middle names, rather than her first name.

“It seems ridiculous and we’ve spoken with a friend in the United States who sadi that Michael is a unisex name,” the mother told TV4.

According to the database of names maintained by Statistics Sweden (SCB), there are currently 38 women in Sweden with the name Michael, two of whom have Michael as their first name.

Story continues below…

The family said they are considering launching an appeal against the Tax Agency’s ruling.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:34 July 29, 2009 by Richard Corke
1. It is stupid to name your child after an emotionally crippled human being such as Michael Jackson.

2. The government should have no involvement in the naming of a family's child. Are you free, or are you slaves?
10:16 July 29, 2009 by dickdong
There is a member of the British royal family named Princess Michael, she is married to Prince Michael. So that's nice isn't it?
10:19 July 29, 2009 by Britswedeguy
Michael is not a unisex name.

@ Richard Corke - exactly.

@ dickdong - That's only the same as the old-fashioned way of referring to the wife of John Smith as "Mrs. John Smith", it's stupid and out-dated - just like the British royal family.
10:50 July 29, 2009 by Nilspet
This shows that Sweden is a democratic country (where majority counts) but it is not a country of freedom. WHY should tax offices put their nose in this business? They are paid by tax money ...the money from people.

I have friends in US, Thailand, Australia and can name their kids how they like it and it is harmless to their children.
11:08 July 29, 2009 by Puffin
Well I guess you can write to your MP and ask for the Swedish Name Law to be overturned

However until that time - the Tax authority which is also responsible for maintaining the register of births, marriages and deaths will have to follow the law - there is a general ban on any name that is "offensive or can cause discomfort to the bearer or is for other reasons unsuitable as a first name" (paragraph 34)

If people think that the wrong decision has been made by the tax authority - then they are free to appeal to the County Court
12:45 July 29, 2009 by Omaro
That is totally stupid, everybody is free to name his child the name he, she likes, the tax agency way of dealing with the subject reminded me with the ways the communist countries was dealing with such stuff.
12:52 July 29, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Not in Sweden. In its infinite wisdom, the Swedish Tax Authority is looking out for the welfare of children, and wants to make sure that no child is made fun of because of his or name. Of course they haven't taken into consideration the fact that all children at some point in their lives are cruel and heartless little bastards and that they will tease, harass, and bully their peers regardless of their names.
14:14 July 29, 2009 by insect
They could name her Michaela and lose the a at home. But any girl called michael would surely have problems with classmates in future, so these parents really need to rethink.
14:44 July 29, 2009 by Luckystrike
I think it's great that the Tax Authority have the Childs best interest at heart when it comes to naming your child. It stops a huge amount of stupid people from ultimately setting their children up for a likely disastrous life.

The B'stards still take way to much income tax though :(
14:46 July 29, 2009 by peropaco
I would rather meet a girl with the name Michael than with some of the other stupid names like Gun, Gull, Botvid, Gunborg, Wiveca or Majborg.
15:11 July 29, 2009 by byke
Scary that a TAX agency has control over such moral & family values.

I wonder if we will see a time when a list of swedish acceptable names are allowed based per sex?

The thin line between this and Hitlers human stud farms to help produce acceptable master race offspring doesnt seem that far off, does it? -----
15:16 July 29, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Oh naturally, the Swedish Tax Authority's ability to disapprove names is almost like the eugenics practiced by the Third Reich.
16:03 July 29, 2009 by farnoxo
Goodness knows what the almighty tax office would do if one wanted to name one's son Gaylord or change your surname to Lillicrap, Vockerrodt or LipShitz - all valid names in England and South Africa!
16:32 July 29, 2009 by DMatni
Do parents really have to give a reason why they choose a specific name for their baby to the authorities every single time a baby is born or simply if the name sounds controversial?

If there are already other women (I'm assuming born in Sweden) named Michael and it was accepted then, why is it not accepted now? Do their list of acceptable names change over time? I'm speechless at how much the Swedish authorities treat their citizens like young children and yet still claim to be a democratic country of the free world.
18:44 July 29, 2009 by byke
While I dont necessarily agree with the name, I am concerned that the TAX division of the government has the power to judge and pass judgement. Technically you can take this to the PRV for appeal, but only after you have come to a suitable name agreement with "Skatteverket" within a time frame, and before you make an appeal. To me this sounds pretty bent.

On the other hand, if Sweden continues to enforce strict guidelines in what it terms as unacceptable. Does this help widen the gap and enforce the right to larger forms of discrimination?

I am on the fence on this one, but I do think the way it is setup at present is far from impartial and because of that I object to "Skatteverket" handling the names of new births when the law is not clear enough in how it the law should operate and step in.
23:52 July 29, 2009 by Nilspet
Skatteverket would lose in the court I am quite sure. I hope there will be a law suit. It is like North Korea where the state decides what people are called. I wonder if they will allow kids born to Korean parents be named Kim Jong-il the name of the dictator of North Korea but it is a Korean name regardless.
00:35 July 30, 2009 by Verdandih
There is a reason way you can't name your child anything, ask the litle girl from New Zealand hows parent named her "Tahula does the hula from Hawahii" or the boy hows parent named him "Nr 16 bus-shelter".

The name was legally walid in N.Z.

Im sure they where not to happy about there names.
13:23 July 30, 2009 by Davidiand
14:46 July 29, 2009 by peropaco

'I would rather meet a girl with the name Michael than with some of the other stupid names like Gun, Gull, Botvid, Gunborg, Wiveca or Majborg'

You may think they are stupid but others do not! They are part of the culture, personally I think naming children after places is a bit silly, such as Chelsea, for example but that was someone's choice. Anyway Michell is a femin form of Michael much nicer but that's just my opinion!
13:20 July 31, 2009 by Hedley
Ok, I do not really know Swedish law. However, Michael is a very masculine name: indeed is an archangel who sent Belzebuh to hell. His feast is on 29th September. In Panama, there is a city called "Miguel" (-Spanish version of Michael- "u" not pronounced) founded by Balboa (the man who discoreved Pacific Ocean).

I am agree with Davidiand: Michell or Michelle (I have a niece whit that name) is a feminine version of this name.
13:53 July 31, 2009 by Puffin
All they need to do was add an A

Michaela is a well established female form of Michael
17:15 July 31, 2009 by princeally
well,,i think tax officers,they did wrong thing to no allowing them to changed their princeses name to the KING of pop name..i was thinking swiden is a democracy county,but maybe i guess wrong..
08:25 August 4, 2009 by ameribrit
The irony of this whole thing is that in this great egalitarian society the naming laws were introduced at the beginning of the last century to stop the common folk using the same names as the aristocracy.

Just one more double standard within the Swedish system.

Don't get me wrong, I love living in Sweden but I think sometimes that the swedes need to take a look at themselves from the outside now and again and get some perspective.
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