• Sweden's news in English

Swedish gay rights group in gay marriage threat

The Local · 4 Jul 2013, 16:19

Published: 04 Jul 2013 16:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I have received a letter, on headed notepaper from someone who says he is a lawyer of the court stating that if our organization does not desist in supporting the marriage then they will proceed with legal procedures that could result in lifetime imprisonment," said Ulrika Westerlund to The Local.

The Local reported on Monday that the person, who is legally defined as a man but identifies as transgender, is the target of a petition placed before the Sindh High Court in Karachi, Pakistan, calling for prosecution following the marriage to his same-sex partner in Sweden in late 2013.

Same-sex couples were given equal rights to marriage in Sweden in May 2009 and since then more than 2,000 people have taken the chance to get married with many more converting their legal status from registered partnership to married.

RFSL is assisting the person in their bid for asylum on the grounds of sexuality and Westerlund told The Local that the threats directed against them strengthen the case.

"The Migration Board can't very well turn around and say that they are not threatened after this," she said.

The Swedish Aliens Act was amended in 2005 to include sexual preference and gender as grounds for asylum. A risk assessment is made as to whether the asylum-seeker faces a risk of persecution due to their sexual preference, gender, or gender identity in their home country.

Westerlund argued that there are deficiencies in how the law is interpreted and argued that this risk assessment can create a certain Catch-22 situation for many LGBT refugees due to, among other things, the reasoning from migration authorities of the need for having manifested their sexual preference publicly.

"Applicants could be asked whether they had lived openly as homosexuals, in say Sudan. When they answer 'no, I would have been killed' it can be interpreted that they had not then exposed themselves to risk and be denied asylum," she explained.

"There is a lack of knowledge among migration authorities about the lives of LGBT people, but there also seem to be some absurdities in the law. It needs to be revised."

Oscar Ek at the Migration Board told The Local that a clear framework is followed for assessing all asylum cases, including those motivated by sexual preference.

"The law is clear that a homosexual should not be forced to live in secret, as many do in many parts of the world. We aim to achieve the best results possible," he said.

Ek added that some 20 staff have recently completed specialist training in LGBT issues and have since May been deployed at Migration Board offices across the country.

"I would say the jury is still out on that one," he said, conceding that there is more that can be done with regards to training staff.

"We need to increase knowledge about the hetero-normative society. It can resemble something of a dead end on the issue of how a relationship can be."

Story continues below…

He told The Local that there are no figures for how many people seek asylum on the grounds of sexual preference, gender, or gender identity as the Swedish constitution prevents tracking such information.

Same-sex marriage is permitted in 15 countries with several others considering bills or allowing same-sex marriage in some jurisdictions.

Homosexuality is criminalized in some 80 countries across the world and in at least six countries the punishment can extend to the death penalty for homosexual acts.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter Vinthagen Simpson on Twitter

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th year.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available