More than 30 Swedish towns and cities are holding Pride celebrations in 2015, as a growing number of smaller municipalities embrace the country's LGBTQ scene.
“Since Eskilstuna [in central Sweden] held its first Pride Festival 2009, there's been a snowball effect. Last year exploded,” Jon Voss, news editor for Swedish gay news site qx.se, told the TT newswire on Tuesday.
Ski resort Åre in northern Sweden and Gällivare in Lapland held their first Pride events this spring, with Ånge (also in the north) set to hold its debut event on July 18th.
According to Torbjörn Karlsson, one of the organizers of the festival in Ånge, the event “would not have worked” in previous years, adding that the town had previously been “a bit narrow-minded”.
“There are LGBTQ people who have moved away because they did not feel safe,” he said.
But later this summer Ånge will welcome 15,000 revellers enjoying a selection of DJs, bands and seminars.
“It is good demonstration of an open society and I hope that many people sign up,” the town's Social Democrat mayor Sten-Ove Danielsson added.
Ånge's festival is being co-organized by a range of groups including RFSL, the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, local traders and the local municipality.
Voss told TT that while the growing number of gay friendly events was no doubt good news for the national and international LGBTQ communities, it nevertheless demonstrated that regions across Sweden were jumping on the Pride bandwagon as part of wider public relations efforts.
“Some [places] want to use their events to maybe spice up a town or city that has been heading downhill and might be perceived as a bit 'grey',” he said.
Meanwhile, Ulrika Westerlund, Chair of RFSL, said she welcomed the increased number of the Pride celebrations and said she hoped they could draw attention to LGBTQ issues.
“But it is important to make sure that the local LGBTQ community is involved,” she added.
Earlier this month Sweden was rated the top spot in Scandinavia for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people by campaign group ILGA-Europe.
Speaking to The Local, ILGA-Europe spokesman Juris Lavrikovs praised the country because “there is no limitation in Sweden on marriage, LGBT issues were included in a national action plan and there is no necessary surgical intervention for transgender people.”
But he added: “In Sweden there are still issues, for example if a person wants to register as a new gender, you still need to be diagnosed and there is still requirement for medical intervention. They abolished the surgical requirement, but you still need medical, hormonal or other treatment.”
In 2013, the Spartacus International Gay Guide ranked Sweden the most gay-friendly nation in the world.