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Lukewarm support for 'alternative pride march'

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Lukewarm support for 'alternative pride march'
Participants were outnumbered by some 100 counter-demonstrators. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT
17:09 CEST+02:00
Fewer than a couple of dozen demonstrators turned up to walk in a controversial gay rights parade organized by far-right campaigners in Sweden on Wednesday, according to police.

Organized by Jan Sjunnesson, a former editor of the nationalist Sweden Democrats' official party pamphlet, the march had been launched as an alternative parade to support gay issues in areas with a large immigrant population.

However, organizers of the ongoing Stockholm Pride Week rejected the event as a way for anti-immigration organizations to capitalize on a growing LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer) movement in Sweden while pushing far-right ideals.

Tensions between the groups had been running high ahead of the march, but in the end police spokesman Lars Byström told The Local that it had been a rather quiet afternoon.

“There were no problems, everything happened in a calm way,” he said.

Demonstrators in the Järva suburb north of Stockholm, one of the areas affected by riots two years ago, were vastly outnumbered by more than 100 counter-demonstrators who had organized their own event to protest the march.


The march attracted lukewarm support. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

“We're here, we're queer, get used to it. We're here, we're queer, get used to it,” Sjunnesson chanted in front of his approximately 20 supporters on Wednesday.

“They should welcome the fact that we can hold Pride parades everywhere in Sweden,” he told the Metro newspaper, referring to criticism from gay rights organizations.

But he admitted he had expected a higher turnout.

“There are more journalists than participants, I had expected twice as many,” he said.

READ ALSO: Sweden gears up for Stockholm Pride Festival

Stockholm Pride Week, which got under way on Monday, is the biggest of its kind in Scandinavia and sees tens of thousands travel to the Swedish capital every year to celebrate LGBTQ rights.

The official parade on Saturday, held in central parts of Stockholm, is expected to attract some 400,000 spectators and more than 40,000 participants.

“No racist forces are welcome in any part of our operations. Our organizations and our festival should be a place for all LGBTQ people and our friends,” said Stockholm Pride and Swedish campaign group RFSL in a joint statement ahead of Sjunnesson's march.

A Stockholm Pride spokeswoman told The Local last week that heads of the nationalist Sweden Democrat party – which does not support issues such as gay marriage and homosexuals' right to adopt – had not been invited to take part in Saturday's official Pride parade along with other party leaders.

“I don't think we have to explain it, I think people know why,” she said, but declined to comment further.

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