RFSL spokesperson Sandra Ehne said that opting to stay away from Sweden’s premiere political event was “a difficult decision” but that the group felt the need to distance itself from NRM.
“This isn’t about throwing in the towel or capitulating to the Nazis. On the contrary, it’s about trying to reclaim our position and stand firmly in our political mission rather than just worrying about what the Nazis are going to do this year,” Ehne told TT.
NRM first attended the Almedalen political festival in 2017 and then doubled its numbers at last year’s gathering, where the group heckled a speech by Centre Party leader Annie Lööf and allegedly assaulted a woman in what experts said was an intentional effort to create visibility in an election year.
Ehne said that NRM was allowed a presence near the area where RFSL traditionally has its Almedalen base. The LGBT group unsuccessfully appealed against the decision to allow NRM to set up there.
This year, RFSL will decline to participate in any panel events or political debates at Almedalen because its members feel threatened.
“It’s partly because there is a more hostile political climate and less freedom for us to say what we want to say. But it’s also about the physical presence at the events and on the premises,” Ehne said. “Our support team hears from a lot of people each year who are subjected to hate crimes and each individual case is tragic.”
Although RFSL won’t participate in any political discussions, the group’s Gotland chapter will organize a diversity parade at Almedalen on Thursday, July 4th.
“It will be more important this year than ever for everyone in Visby to show that they support equal rights for all,” Ehne said.
Mia Stuhre, Almedalen’s project leader, told TT she regretted but supported RFSL’s decision to withdraw from official events at this year’s programme.
According to the anti-racism foundation Expo, the number of white power demonstrations in Sweden has more than doubled over the past decade.