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Swedish city kisses goodbye to homophobia

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Swedish city kisses goodbye to homophobia
Councillors Anders Agren and Hans Lindberg on one of the posters. Photo: Utopia
14:11 CEST+02:00
Swedish business people, politicians and cultural icons have been snapped smooching with members of the same sex for a poster campaign in Umeå, designed to 'kiss homophobia goodbye'.
The giant images are being displayed around Umeå's main indoor shopping centre, rather fittingly named Utopia, ahead of the northern Swedish city's Pride festival over the weekend.
 
"It's a great honour to have these participants offering themselves, and undoubtedly promotes our campaign against homophobia," said Mona Liden, Utopia's manager, in a statement.
 
Municipal councillors from the centre-right Moderate Party and from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's Social Democrats are among those who have been photographed for the Kiss Homophobia Goodbye project, as well as ice hockey coaches, university staff and the director of the city's Women's History Museum.
 
With temperatures of around 14C and rain predicted on Friday, some of the Umeå Pride festival will take place inside Utopia rather than outdoors.
 
"It's important for us to support the forces that seek to preserve diversity and act against hate and intolerance," added Liden.
 
"We have chosen to help Umeå Pride to reach out with its message about the right to love all kinds of people."
 
Meta Tunnell, one of the organisers of the Pride event in the famously open and tolerant city described the shopping mall's involvement this year as "priceless".
 
"We work with an almost non-existent budget and 'Kiss Homophobia Goodbye' gives us the opportunity to reach out with our message far more than we usually do."
 
People living in Umeå and elsewhere in Sweden are being invited to take part in the campaign by posting pictures of themselves kissing someone of the same gender on social media, with the hashtags #kisshomophobiagoodbye or #khg.
 
Linnea Risinger, a spokesperson for RFSL, the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights described the initiative as "an awesome campaign" when contacted by The Local.
 
Sweden is hosting a record number of festivals aimed at the country's sizeable LGBTQ community in 2015.
 
In 2013, the Spartacus International Gay Guide ranked the Nordic country the most gay-friendly nation in the world and earlier this year it scored highest in Scandinavia and fourth in Europe in a review of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people experience human rights across the continent, by campaign group ILGA-Europe.
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