Swedish watchdog rules in favour of topless bather

Sweden's anti-discrimination watchdog has found in favour of a transgender person who was banned from swimming topless at a swimming pool.

Swedish watchdog rules in favour of topless bather
File image of a woman swimming in Åkeshov, Stockholm. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

The country's Diskrimineringsombudsman (DO) found that the pool's decision was illegal and that anyone identifying as transgender should be permitted to swim in public pools without having to cover their breasts.

Local media have said that the ruling, a copy of which has been seen by AFP, could set a precedent and mean that all women wanting to swim topless will be free to do so — regardless of their gender identity.

DO spokesman Clas Lundstedt, however, told AFP: “The decision is for a particular situation, it does not enact a rule that applies to all pools.”

The DO said the complainant was barred from a Stockholm pool because they insisted on wearing only swimming trunks to use the facilities.

The management treated the pool user as a woman while they wanted to be identified as transgender.

Carina Engström, manager of the Liljeholmsbadet pool in the Swedish capital, said that the DO's decision might upset the sensibilities of users of different cultures or religions.

“Some women bathe in a full swimming costume,” she told the TT news agency.

Other local pool managers have raised concerns about the risk of possible sexual assaults in swimming baths if women are allowed to swim topless with several recent cases firing debate on the issue in the media and online.


Stockholm Pride is a little different this year: here’s what you need to know 

This week marks the beginning of Pride festivities in the Swedish capital. The tickets sold out immediately, for the partly in-person, partly digital events. 

Pride parade 2019
There won't be a Pride parade like the one in 2019 on the streets of Stockholm this year. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

You might have noticed rainbow flags popping up on major buildings in Stockholm, and on buses and trams. Sweden has more Pride festivals per capita than any other country and is the largest Pride celebration in the Nordic region, but the Stockholm event is by far the biggest.  

The Pride Parade, which usually attracts around 50,000 participants in a normal year, will be broadcast digitally from Södra Teatern on August 7th on Stockholm Pride’s website and social media. The two-hour broadcast will be led by tenor and debater Rickard Söderberg.

The two major venues of the festival are Pride House, located this year at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull in Södermalm, and Pride Stage, which is at Södra Teatern near Slussen.

“We are super happy with the layout and think it feels good for us as an organisation to slowly return to normal. There are so many who have longed for it,” chairperson of Stockholm Pride, Vix Herjeryd, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Tickets are required for all indoor events at Södra Teatern to limit the number of people indoors according to pandemic restrictions. But the entire stage programme will also be streamed on a big screen open air on Mosebacketerassen, which doesn’t require a ticket.  

You can read more about this year’s Pride programme on the Stockholm Pride website (in Swedish).