Swedish rainbow hockey club lands fresh support

An ice hockey club in northern Sweden, which plays in the rainbow colours to support LGBT rights, has won several new backers after former sponsors pulled out following the shirt change.

Swedish rainbow hockey club lands fresh support
Players from the Kiruna IF hockey club marching the Stockholm Pride Festival 2014. Photo: Annika af Klercker/TT

Kiruna IF made international headlines in June when they announced they were going to play in rainbow coloured shirts for the new season. 

The move earned praise from activists and it was awarded with a certificate by RFSL (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) as a result.

However, the move came at a cost and the club had to take a financial hit as some sponsors withdrew their support. The club was forced to axe staff and launched an appeal online to find new backers.

"We've received over 150 new members with the different appeals done on social media," Kiruna IF's chairman Johan Köhler told the TT news agency.

He added that the appeal has helped the club land a major new sponsor from a building contractor, and they were in talks with other national companies who wanted to support them.

"Since then we've even had private individuals donating money directly to us," said Köhler.

When the club made the rainbow shirt announcement last summer they said it was to stand up for gay rights, in a sport that is traditionally male dominated and considered to be macho.

Players from Kiruna IF have embraced the idea and marched in the Stockholm Pride festival to popular acclaim. The club has also made money by selling the shirts online for 500 kronor ($69) a piece.

"It is us taking up a stand, that LBT people are not going to be shoved aside, made fun of and heckled," Köhler said at Stockholm Pride where they debuted the colourful shirts.

The club intend to use their new cash injection to improve the facilities at their ice rink. Köhler said he was unsure whether they would be rehiring former staff who left as a result of the previous cuts.

"At the start people just clicked the like button on Facebook. But now many realise that a lot more is needed in order for us to reach out with our message," Köhler told TT.

The senior mens Kiruna IF team is currently second in the northern hockey league.  

The Local/pr

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In Pictures: Tens of thousands turn out for Stockholm Pride parade

Around 50,000 people took part in the Pride parade in Stockholm this year, with close to an estimated figure of half a million spectators cheering them on. Here are the best pictures.

In Pictures: Tens of thousands turn out for Stockholm Pride parade
Tens of thousands of people marched in the Stockholm Pride Parade. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The weather, sunny with around 20C, helped boost the turnout. Just look at this picture taken in front of Stockholm City Hall.

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Sweden's Supreme Commander Micael Bydén, pictured below, was one of many well-known faces who marched in the parade. Remember last year when he burst out into an Elvis hit?

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Several politicians took part in the parade, for example Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the conservative Moderate Party and Stockholm mayor Anna König Jerlmyr…

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

… and, of the Social Democrat party, from left, former Stockholm mayor Karin Wanngård, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Social Security Minister Annika Strandhäll.

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The 4.3 kilometre route ran from the City Hall on Kungsholmen over to Östermalms IP.

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Barbro Westerholm, 86, who had homosexuality removed from the list of mental illnesses in 1979 during her time as general director of Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare, also marched in the parade. Here she is, pictured centre next to the new leader of the Liberal Party, Nyamko Sabuni, third from left:

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

The parade brought up serious issues too:

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Organizers estimate that nearly half a million people turned out to watch the parade. That's almost half the population of Stockholm.

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT