The picture, posted to coincide with Stockholm Pride week, was accompanied by a short text:
“We are prepared to go as far as necessary. Your right to live how you wish, as you want and with who you want is our duty to defend. And we are prepared to give everything to do that”.
Nemo Stjernström from the Swedish Armed Forces communications department explained the thinking behind the post.
“In part we wanted to show that we clearly take a stand for everyone's equal worth and rights. In part, that we actively, every day, contribute to ensuring we can continue to live as we wish in a free Sweden. Using the pride flag's colours and slipping it in to a detail on the uniform is something we have tried before and received a really good response to – it makes it very clear what we mean and what we stand for,” he told The Local.
With around 5,000 likes and over 600 shares on Facebook plus 200,000 views on Twitter, it is one of the organization's most successful social media posts ever, Stjernström revealed:
“We feel a great deal of support from those who follow us on Facebook but also others who are normally not interested in military issues who have given us active support”.
Not everyone has been positive however, with some Facebook users taking issue with the post.
“Here I was thinking that the Armed Forces' duty is to defend the Swedish nation's borders,” one comment said.
“One doesn't negate the other,” Stjernström said in reference to the post.
“The Armed Forces' activities are founded on defending Sweden, the country's interests, our freedoms and right to live as we choose. The general public should feel, know and understand that the Armed Forces stands up for the freedoms and interests of all citizens, here and now, that we defend the current and future Sweden. What we are defending is more than just territory and our borders. It's our democratic governance, our laws, our freedoms and rights. Everything that makes Sweden Sweden.”
“There are always some (but relatively few) who think the Armed Forces as an authority should hold a low profile in issues that can be deemed as political. We don't think so. We want to clearly and strongly take a stand for the freedoms and rights we are tasked with protecting,” he concluded.