Last week’s Pride Festival in Växjö in southern Sweden attracted around 9,000 participants and included events organized by the local branch of the Swedish Church (Svenska Kyrkan).
But Bruno Edgarsson, who is head of Växjö diocese's adminstrative board as well as a member of Sweden’s Centre Party, caused a stir in the famously open and tolerant Nordic country when he made controversial comments in response.
“I am definitely against Pride. I think it should be a man and a woman and I can’t reconcile myself with LBGT,” he told local paper Smålänningen.
“I don’t know why they choose to become homosexuals, but I believe it has become a trend among young people, and then it isn’t easy to remove yourself from it,” he added.
A Centre Party spokesperson told The Local that it has distanced itself from the statements, and that they were not previously aware of Edgarsson’s thoughts on the issue.
“We aren’t in agreement with what he said and the party distances itself from the comments,” said Per Schöldberg, the Centre Party’s chairman for the Kronoberg district, where Edgarsson is based.
“I didn’t previously know about these thoughts on homosexuality. It was news for me,” he added.
“This is a question of human rights and equality. Most people know that the Centre Party has a crystal clear line on these questions. We’ll have discussions with him about what has happened, about what he said and then take it forward from there,” Schöldberg concluded.
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Edgarsson’s comments have also been met with opposition within the church. Fellow bishop Fredrik Modéus told news agency TT that “for me, it is important to say that what the rainbow flag stands for – diversity and difference – is completely consistent with my Christian faith”.
“I come across this debate in the form of either very strong agreement or very strong disagreement. That shows how polarized the question is. Meetings need to take place. To not communicate over this would be the worst of all,” he added.
The Local has attempted to contact Edgarsson for a comment.