Justice Minister Beatrice Ask welcomed the reforms presented to the Swedish government on Tuesday by a committee (Namnlagskommittén) tasked with looking at potential reforms.
Among other things, the committee suggested that rules be eased for people wishing to have two surnames. Ask said such a reform would help women in particular who wanted to add their husband’s name to their maiden name.
“The most important thing about the proposal it that it makes things easier for people, as you would remove a lot of obstacles,” Ask told the TT news agency.
Swedes would also be given more freedom to swap surnames to completely new ones, as long as there are more than 2,000 people who use their desired names. Doing so would open up the field for people wanting to take more common names such as Andersson or Bergström.
Name researcher Eva Brylla, who took part in the committee, said that the proposal would lead the way to a modernized legislation.
“There’s more freedom to chose, people who want a very common surname can take it,” she told TT.
“It’s also good that people can have two surnames, instead of having one as a middle name which has just caused problems.”
Yet the proposal did not solely propose deregulation. It also recommended that there be more cohesive rules for names in order to avoid certain illegible or troublesome combinations of letters and numbers. The underlying motivation, which has previously guided much of Swedish name legislation that gives the authorities the right to veto parents’ choice of names for their children, is to protect children from comical and repulsive monikers.
The proposal also said Sweden should keep its protection of surnames that are very closely associated with one family, for example certain aristocratic names such as Gripensvärd, Lagersparre och Nordenstjerna.
The committee noted a rise in Swedes wanting to adopt rarer, family-specific names and said Sweden should not encourage the trend. In addition, certain well-known names where there are no surviving family members to carry the name on should be protected, the proposal suggested. Committee chair Olle Abrahamsson said there was a need to protect Swedish cultural traditions.