Note: Sweden hosted an interdisciplinary conference on "Same-sex couples, same-sex partnerships and homosexual marriages" with "a focus on cross-country differentials" in Stockholm, 25-26 September 2003.
Together with lawyers from nine countries they are compiling an overview of the major legal consequences that marriage, registered partnership and cohabitation have in these countries for same-sex and for different-sex couples.
Gay Iranian Faces Sure Execution if Expelled from Sweden. Young Man’s Boyfriend Executed—Mother Suffers Reprisals
Urgent Action Alert: Contact Sweden’s Appeal Board Now!
The expulsion of a gay Iranian who has applied for asylum in Sweden was delayed a few hours on January 20, 1999 immediately before he was due to be placed on a flight back to Iran. However, the Aliens Appeals Board – the Swedish immigration authority – decided that the Iranian citizen is to be kept in police custody, to prevent any attempts to escape a possible future expulsion.
The delay was reportedly brought about by new evidence produced by Stig-Ake Petersson, Asylum Coordinator for the Swedish gay and lesbian group RFSL.
According to Petersson, relatives of the asylum seeker have reported that the man’s boyfriend in Iran has been executed on the grounds of their homosexual relationship. Further, Iranian authorities have reportedly undertaken reprisals against the asylum seeker’s mother because her son has left the country. The current case is just one among those of several gay Iranians who might face repatriation to Iran from Sweden. This case has been appealed to human-rights bodies of the Council of Europe. No information is available as to whether the Aliens Appeals Board intends to suspend deportation awaiting a judgement by those bodies, which might take several years.
According to Stig-Ake Petersson, the man faces certain death if repatriated to Iran. Those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch. Gay men and lesbians live in frightening closets in this ancient land once known as Persia. A theocracy masquerading as a democracy, ever since fundamentalist religionists seized government control following a 1979 uprising against the autocratic Shah, primitive "religious" death penalties for same-sex love are now used to strike terror into Iran’s fragmented gay communities.
During the past decade, however, Iranian men and women, primarily exiles, have bravely confronted the rampant homophobia loosed in their country, publishing an impressive magazine, Homan, and courageously establishing worldwide outposts of their organization, also called Homan. Hit-squads sanctioned by the Iranian government operate brashly in locales outside the nation, murdering nationals who oppose the current "religious" regime. The bravery, therefore, of Iranians who publish and agitate against the anti-gay policies of the regime cannot be underestimated.
A perusal of the anti-gay penal code passed by the fundamentalist Iranian parliament in 1982 gives evidence of the insanity that motivates homophobic nit-pickers. "One may become aware of the complexities and intricacies of Iranian sex laws and appreciate the extraordinary flatulence of their creators," writes one critic.
According to Article 152, if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge’s discretion. Gay teens (Article 144) are also punished at a judge’s discretion. Rubbing one’s penis between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the English- speaking world as "frottage" is punishable by death if the "offender" is a non-Moslem. If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth "offense" both men will be put to death.
Even heterosexually-inclined Iranians must now be exceedingly careful. Should they introduce two men who are likely to be found nude under the covers or to rub their penises between thighs or buttocks, they too are liable for 70 lashes (if they are men) or 75 lashes (if they are women.)
According to Article 156, a person who repents and confesses his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses, may be pardoned. Even kissing "with lust" (Article 155) is forbidden. This bizarre law works to eliminate old Persian male-bonding customs, including common kissing and holding hands in public. Who can determine what constitutes lust? Some gay liberationists joke about the "boner police."
In fact, morality police do thrive in modern Iran, seeking out not only gays and lesbians, but opposite sex couples too, those who picnic together without being related by blood.
21 September 1999
"A few weeks ago I reported about Fahrad Miran, a gay Iranian man, who was facing expulsion from Sweden. Yesterday 21 September 1999 he was granted permanent residence permit by The Swedish Aliens Appeals Board (Utlänningsnämnden).
Fahrad Miran arrived in Sweden in December 1997 after having fled from Iran. He told the immigration authorities that his lover had been seized by the Iranian religious police, and that he feared for his own security. The Swedish immigration authorities (Invandrarverket) did however not believe him and he was therefore not granted asylum in April 1998. This year his application for asylum has been rejected twice by the Aliens Appeals Board.
In the boards decision yesterday it states that the fact, that Fahrad Miran has given an interview in a newspaper, which stated his name and details about his partner in Iran, has changed the mind of the board. It can not be excluded that the Iranian authorities have learned of Mr. Miran’s case, and that he therefore might face problems with the authorities if he returns to Iran. On this ground he should be granted residence permit in accordance with the Swedish asylum legislation." (Source: Homoplaneten/Greger Eman)
Swede Parliament Has the Most Women
Geneva – Swedish women have more than 40 percent of the seats in Sweden’s parliament, putting them atop legislative gender-equality standings at the end of the millennium. The poll was compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a global association of national legislatures. The United States was far down on the list. It holds 43rd place, with women making up 13.3 percent of the members of the House of Representatives, according to updated IPU records. Nordic countries top the survey. Sweden, just under 40 percent in an IPU study issued last October, has risen to 42.7 percent. Denmark is in 2nd place with 37.4 percent, followed by Finland at 37 percent and Norway with 36.4 percent.
Rounding out the top 10 were the Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, South Africa, Cuba and Vietnam, which ranged from 36 to 26 percent. China is in 17th place with 21.8 percent women legislators, and Canada is 20th with 20.6 percent. France is in 66th place at 10.9 percent, Russia 73rd at 10.2 and Japan 122nd with 4.6. Countries reporting a total absence of women legislators were Djibouti, Jordan, Kuwait, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.
February 24, 2002
Sweden Seeks to Bolster Gay Couples’ Right to Adopt
by Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
Stockholm – Swedes have long been social trailblazers in defining gay rights and blended-family values, but even in this liberal bastion the law still needs to catch up with common practice. Lawmakers are now debating a bill that would give gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children both in Sweden and abroad, and it is expected to easily win approval in June when parliament votes on the measure.
Supporters hail the legislation not only for aiming to rectify discrimination against same-sex couples, but also for the clarity it should bring to murky legalities surrounding children already growing up with gay parents. "Such households exist in our society, and in increasing numbers, so we have to recognize that," says Marianne Carlstrom, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Goran Persson’s Social Democratic Labor Party, which is sponsoring the bill. "We can’t address the needs of these children with gay parents unless we have a legal framework that includes the adoption issue."
Under current law, a single parent of either sex can qualify for adoption if he or she passes an extensive state-administered battery of tests probing financial status, emotional stability and social environment. A friend or relative of the opposite sex of the adoptive parent must also commit to providing a gender model for the child. But partners in registered same-sex relationships or marriages are ineligible to adopt, although the law is powerless to prevent a gay person who is single from adopting and bringing up the child with his or her partner.
In-vitro fertilization also is restricted to heterosexuals–another inconsistency that parliament is expected to address simultaneously with the adoption law revisions. The current legal gaps hamstring courts increasingly being called on to decide custody and support issues when gay couples with children separate through divorce or death. Legal rights favor the biological mother, but even those are ill-defined if the child was produced by unauthorized in-vitro fertilization.
Just last month, a court in the southern city of Orebro ruled that a 35-year-old man who had donated sperm for a lesbian couple’s three children is financially responsible for the offspring now that the partners have separated. "These are the consequences of having obsolete laws. This case is being appealed, but it’s difficult to see how the court could rule any other way under the existing laws defining parental rights and responsibilities," says Robert Karlsson Svard, information chief for the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.
Swedish family law still tends to define children and parental rights in the context of a traditional nuclear family, Svard says. With half of Swedish children born out of wedlock and more than a third of marriages ending in divorce, the legally enshrined model no longer applies to the majority of families, he notes. The interest group with 6,500 members was consulted in the bill’s drafting and is satisfied with the changes it will bring, Svard says, adding that it will give Sweden the most liberal adoption framework in Europe.
Gay adoption already is legal in the Netherlands but only applicable to children born in that country, which, like Sweden, has a dearth of children available for adoption because of liberal abortion and welfare laws. Gay marriage has been legally recognized in Sweden since 1995, encouraging more openness about sexual orientation, Svard says. But neither the federation nor the government maintains statistics on the numbers of gay couples who have married.
Sweden’s legislation already has won endorsement by all political parties represented in parliament with the exception of the Christian Democrats and the right-of-center Moderates, Carlstrom says. That support should ensure a solid majority during a vote set for June 5 and its passage into law in 2003, she says. Nonetheless, a passionate debate is expected. "There is opposition, even in my own party, but it is based more on emotion than facts. There’s not much research on same-sex couples as parents, but we have every reason to believe they are as stable and nurturing as heterosexual parents," Carlstrom says. Svard argues that the bar is probably set even higher for gay couples to qualify for adoption. "There are more rigid demands on these parents, in the same way that a woman in a male-dominated workplace often has to work twice as hard to be successful," he says.
June 5, 2002
Sweden OKs Same-Sex Adoption Plan
by Kim Gamel
Stockholm, Sweden – Swedish legislators voted Wednesday to let same-sex couples adopt children – a decision that gay activists hailed as a step toward gaining the full benefits of marriage. Under the bill, gays registered in a legal partnership, allowed in Sweden since 1995, can be considered joint adoptive parents of children adopted in the country or abroad. One of the partners also will be able to adopt the child of another. The measures, approved after several hours of heated debate in parliament, make the nation of about 9 million people one of the few countries to give homosexuals the right to enter legal partnerships and adopt children. Even rarer was the inclusion of adoptions of children abroad, although it could have little practical effect since most countries forbid adoption by homosexuals.
The law will probably take effect early next year. The Social Democratic-led Swedish government proposed the law after a parliamentary research committee found that gay couples would have the same ability to care for the children. Alf Svensson, the leader of the opposition Christian Democrats, had appealed to lawmakers to "make sure that adopted children will be spared experiencing something that every child should be guaranteed not having to experience, that of having only two fathers or only two mothers.”
Gay activists applauded the biil, saying it will bring them closer to gaining the full benefits of marriage. Sweden and fellow Nordic nations Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland already recognize legal partnerships between gays, but only Denmark and Iceland allow adoption. "We are now going to fight for the possibility to marry under the same laws as straight couples,” said Robert Karlsson Svaerd, a spokesman for the Swedish Federation for Gay and Lesbian Rights.
December 27, 2002
Swedish gay couples may get own adoption agency
Stockholm – Gay couples in Sweden, who recently won the right to adopt children, may get their own adoption agency as traditional offices refuse to accept their applications, the daily Metro reported Friday. According to the National Federation for the Equality of the Sexes (RFSL), the six organisations handling adoption requests ostracize homosexual applicants, even after a law giving them adoption rights was passed in February this year.
"The adoption agencies have made their views clear. Within the Federation we are now very seriously discussing the possibility of creating an independent adoption agency," RFSL president Soeren Andersson said. Annika Gruenewald, spokeswoman for Adoptionscentrum, defended the position of the traditional agencies, saying that "the people we work with in the countries of origin no longer want to cooperate if children from there are adopted by homosexuals". "In many countries, homosexuality is illegal. Once Sweden is associated with adoption by homosexuals, then the chances of heterosexual couples to adopt children are compromised," she said. Nearly all children adopted in Sweden were born elsewhere.
March 7, 2003
Sweden to Allow Its Embassies to Wed Gay Couples
Stockholm – Sweden wants its embassies around the world to marry gay couples, a union that is banned in many countries, the foreign minister said on Friday. Of Sweden’s approximately 100 embassies, 21 are authorized to marry men and women if one member of the couple is a Swedish citizen. The government wants those embassies to extend their authority to homosexual marriages. "It is very important for Sweden for civil servants who officiate at weddings to be authorized also to officiate at the registration of partnerships," Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said. Sweden calls gay marriages "registered partnerships," but gay couples have the same legal rights as married heterosexuals in a country with a reputation for tolerance.
"Once we have established that a country accepts partnership registration, we will begin to authorize our civil servants at those embassies," Lindh said. France, Israel and Portugal were likely frontrunners, she added. Sweden’s embassy in Riyadh is one where heterosexual marriages can take place, but Saudi Arabia – where homosexuals may face the death penalty – would naturally not be among the eight states to be approached in the first wave, a Foreign Ministry official said. Soren Andersson, president of Sweden’s biggest gay lobby, said Lindh’s comments, made during a debate in parliament, marked an important step toward equal rights for homosexuals. Sweden, one of only a few countries to give gay couples the same rights as married heterosexuals, became the first nation in Europe to let homosexual couples apply for the right to adopt children from abroad.
23 July 2003
Swedish gays run "gay kid" ads
by Stephen Brown
Stockholm – "Birgitta, six years old, lesbian," reads the advert with a photograph of a little girl in a swimsuit and armbands, alongside some childish drawings. "Not all princesses choose a prince," it adds. A campaign by a Swedish gay group to promote awareness that non-heterosexual orientation can start from an early age caused a backlash on Wednesday from a child protection group that said the sexual depiction of children could encourage paedophiles.
Stockholm Pride, a volunteer group that organises an annual gay, lesbian and transsexual festival, launched the campaign on its website and plans adverts in the mainstream and gay press. Pride’s chairman Anders Selin stressed that all the children depicted are now adult gays, lesbians or transexuals between the ages of 24 and 40. "We’re not telling people that every youngster is homosexual but that it should be as respectable as being heterosexual," he told Reuters.
Selin said he wanted to provoke debate about how adults’ sexual orientation is influenced in childhood by "how our parents raise us and how we’re influenced by toy shops etc". But conservative member of parliament Rosita Runegrund, who works for Ecpat, an international network of organisations that combat the sexual exploitation of children, objected to the fact that the campaign gives young children a sexual identity. "Paedophiles use the argument that children have a sexual identity. For me it was a shock to find the pictures on their website because Pride is a respectful organisation," she said. "There is a strong reaction from the public who don’t understand these pictures. It’s not necessary. Children must have their own experience and it takes time for them to find their own sexual identity," Runegrund told Reuters. Selin, a 36-year-old youth worker who features in one of the adverts himself (as "Anders, seven years old, gay"), said that "as soon as you talk about homosexuality and children everyone starts yelling about paedophiles".
Sweden has a tolerant attitude towards gays and lesbians who can enter into legal partnerships, but not same-sex marriages. Children enjoy a privileged position in Swedish society. The state provides free childcare, corporal punishment has long been banned and there is a low incidence of crimes against children.
October 12, 2003
Swedish gay couples adopt after change in law
Authorities in Sweden have formally recognised the first two cases of gay couples adopting children, following a change in the law which came into effect in February. The TT news agency said that two lesbians in the town of Umeaa had become the legal mothers of a little girl, the biological daughter of one of them.
In Stockholm two men had been recognised as co-fathers of a little girl adopted in the United States in 1998. In general, though, the new law has not made a great difference. Since few Swedish children are available for adoption most are brought in from overseas, in particular from China, Colombia and South Korea. The six organisations authorised to bring in such children fear the supply could dry up if the authorities in the countries of origin think the children will end up in homosexual households. – Sapa-AFP
October 22, 2003
Swedish church takes step towards gay marriages
by Gleb Bryanski
Uppsala, Sweden – Sweden’s national church took a first step toward allowing gay marriages when senior clerics voted Thursday to draft an order of service for such a ceremony. The Lutheran Swedish Church stopped short of promising to vote on the issue next year, but pledged to look at the document when its synod’s meets again in 2004. While any final ruling is still a long way off, advocates of gay weddings celebrated the decision by the General Synod, the supreme church body consisting of about 250 clerics and lay officials. "The Swedish church has thus taken a prophetic role upon itself," lesbian pastor Ann-Cathrin Jarl told Reuters at the assembly in Uppsala, north of Stockholm.
"We are the first major church that has come to that point." A blessing ceremony for gay partners already exists in the Swedish church but it is not legally binding. Church anguish over homosexuality has deepened, with the Anglican Church just managing to avoid a formal rift in London last week over gay clergy. The head of the Swedish Church, in which most native Swedes are baptized, married and buried but which has some of the lowest church attendance rates in the world, warned there was still work to do before gay weddings went ahead.
"It is a step toward making this reality, but a solid theological foundation is needed before the church can go further," Archbishop K G Hammar told a news conference. Opponents to gay marriage have put forward a counterproposal for the church to only recognize marriage as a union between men and women – which was rejected by the assembly. "I feel disappointed. Although they had a majority here at the annual meeting, I do not think the majority of active church members will support this decision," said Nils Arne Rehnstrom, a priest from the town of Pitea in northern Sweden.
The Swedish Church, formed soon after German cleric Martin Luther split with Roman Catholicism in the 16th century starting the Reformation, is one of the world’s most liberal on sexual issues, allowing gay ministers and gay marriage blessings. But parishes and congregations on the west coast and in the north are more conservative than in Stockholm, which has a woman bishop. About 25 pastors are threatening to form a schism in opposition to ordaining women, which began over 40 years ago.
November 14, 2003
Gay kiss ban could land restaurateur in jail
A Stockholm restaurant owner who kicked out a lesbian couple after he saw them kissing has been charged with discrimination and could face as a year in prison. Aziz Cakir told Anna Fernstroem and Susanne Gustavsson to leave his restaurant because they were gay, according to charges.
Prosecutor Tora Holst said Cakir told police he did not accept anybody "making out" in his restaurant, regardless of their sexual orientation. But Holst said she believed the women were targeted because they were lesbian. If convicted, Cakir faces a fine or up to a year in prison, she said.
Toronto Ontario, Canada ( http://www.anglicanjournal.com )
Church of Sweden to introduce a ceremony for same-sex couples
Ecumenical News International
Stockholm – Plans by the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden to introduce a ceremony for same-sex couples have stirred protests from leaders of other denominations, including the Roman Catholic church, two Orthodox churches and the Pentecostal movement. "This action will inevitably affect ecumenical talks and relations in a negative direction," nine church leaders wrote in a November letter to the board of the Church of Sweden , criticizing the decision.
The Church of Sweden’s assembly in October commissioned the church board to draw up a liturgy for a church ceremony for same-sex partnerships. The plans come as Sweden’s parliament is considering introducing a new "sex-neutral" marriage law, to include both homosexual and heterosexual partnerships. If the new law on marriage is introduced, the church ceremony would mean that homosexual couples would be married in the eyes of the law, as is the case at present with heterosexual couples who get married in church.
"We officially accept same-sex relations within the church," said Bo Larsson, head of the office of Archbishop K. G. Hammar, the leader of the Church of Sweden. "And many of us are not only glad and proud of it, but we want to talk about it. Jesus and the Gospel stand for everybody’s right to equality and freedom from oppression."
The Ombudsman against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation, a non-governmental public body set up by the country’s parliament in 1999, in November called for a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to get married under the same conditions as heterosexual couples. At present there are different laws in Sweden regulating marriage and "registered partnerships," the latter which is used by same-sex couples to register and make public their relationship. Another law, regulating rights and duties for couples living together, introduced in 2003, applies both to heterosexual and homosexual couples.
5 February 2004
Not such a gay day for Swede (The rest of the world should have such a problem!)
A man who claims he was denied access to a gay lounge because the bouncer thought he wasn’t gay has reported the club for discrimination based on sexual orientation. George Svede, a spokesman for HomO, a Swedish acronym for the Ombudsman against Discrimination on grounds of Sexual Orientation, said: "This is the first case we have like this."
The 27-year-old, who has not been named, visited the night club with a friend, but said they were refused entry to a special lounge called the Gay-VIP Wonderbar. In a complaint filed with HomO, the man said a bouncer stopped them saying "you have to be gay and on the guest list" to enter the lounge.
"How do we prove that we are gay? It feels like reverse discrimination," the man said in the complaint. Lounge spokesman David Amberton said the men "obviously weren’t gay," but added that was not why they were rejected. "They were not allowed in because they weren’t on the guest list and we didn’t recognise them," Amberton said.
People who feel they’ve been discriminated against because of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability can sue for damages under a new discrimination law that took effect last July. Svede said the Ombudsman’s office would try to sort the issue out with the club before considering suing for damages. "If the club can’t prove that the refusal wasn’t based on names on the guest list, then this is a case of discrimination," he said.
March 3, 2004
Sweden poised for gay marriage nod
From correspondents in Stockholm
The Swedish parliament’s laws committee is considering three motions that would pave the way for gay marriages, replacing a current law on same-sex civil unions that already gives gays the same rights as married couples, officials said today.
Gay couples in Sweden have since 1995 enjoyed the same rights as heterosexual couples. While the public commonly refers to gay unions as "marriages", they are in the eyes of the law officially called "partnerships". The three motions currently under consideration all propose a change in the marriage law to make it "gender neutral", eliminating the last distinction between the two kinds of unions after gays were in February 2003 granted the right to adopt children, Marianne Mostroem, a spokeswoman for the parliament, said. "The laws committee began its work today. A first review is to be submitted on March 9, and the debate in parliament is scheduled for April 28," she said.
Sweden’s gay community has long fought for the right to call their civil unions "real" marriages.
"We are convinced that many people think that the time has come for one law that defines a deep relationship between two individuals and that this is important regardless of the gender of the people," the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) said.
Among the political parties represented in parliament, the Greens, the formerly communist Left party, the Liberals and the Center – which together hold 117 of 349 seats in parliament – have said they are in favour of a gender-neutral marriage law.
The governing Social Democrats, who hold 144 seats, have yet to take an official stand on the issue, but two of the three motions submitted are signed by seven of their MPs. The conservative Moderate party, with 55 seats, has also yet to take a stand.
Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats, who hold 33 seats, are vehemently opposed to a new law. A fourth motion submitted by two Christian Democratic MPs and one Moderate MP calls for the marriage law to be amended to stipulate that marriage is a union "between a man and a woman – for the sake of children".
According to a poll published on Monday, 61 percent of Swedes are in favour of gay marriage, compard to 30 percent who are opposed to the idea.
April 25, 2005
Restaurant fined for throwing out kissing lesbians
Stockholm – A Swedish lesbian couple who were thrown out of a Stockholm restaurant in 2003 for kissing won an appeal on Monday against an earlier court ruling that cleared the restaurant owner of sexual discrimination.
The Court of Appeals in Stockholm ordered restaurant owner Aziz Cakir to pay 50,000 crowns (3,700 pounds) in damages and to cover the legal costs of Sweden’s ombudsman against sexual discrimination, HomO, which filed the appeal.
Cakir asked Anna Fernstrom and Susanne Gustafsson to leave his restaurant after they kissed and later told police he did not let anyone engage in such behaviour on his premises regardless of their sexual orientation.
Stockholm District Court cleared him of discrimination, a charge that can result in a year in jail, in the country’s first test of legislation against sexual discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
But HomO director Hans Ytterberg said the appeals court found the restaurant failed to prove "these two girls behaved in a way that would justify telling them to stop or telling them to leave the premises".
"The Court of Appeals has made it clear that discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation is a serious violation of people’s rights and can cost you dearly," he told Reuters. "This will hopefully function as an effective deterrent."
May 9, 2005
Sweden’s Supreme Court to review acquittal of pastor who denounced homosexuals
Stockholm – Sweden’s Supreme Court said Monday it will review the acquittal of a Pentecostal pastor who denounced homosexuals as "a deep cancer" during a sermon in his church.
An appeals court in February threw out a hate crimes conviction against the priest, Ake Green, saying it was not illegal to offer a personal interpretation of the Bible and urge others to follow it.Sweden’s chief prosecutor appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, saying Green’s comments amounted to hate speech.
A lower court handed Green a 30-day suspended prison sentence in June 2004. He was the first clergyman convicted under Sweden’s tough hate crimes legislation, which was ratified in 2003 to include attacks against homosexuals.
In his sermon, Green told a congregation on the small southeastern island of Oland that homosexuals were "a deep cancer tumor on all of society," and warned that Sweden risked a natural disaster because of leniency toward gays.
" Homosexuality is something sick," Green said, comparing it to pedophilia and bestiality. He said gays were likely to rape children and animals. The Supreme Court did not give any date for the new trial.
Swedes Dispute Translation of a Dag Hammarskjold biography
United Nations – Nothing left behind by Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold after his death in a plane crash in Congo in 1961 had a more enduring impact than a typewritten manuscript found in the bedside table of his New York apartment with an accompanying letter saying it was his "only true profile." The diary-form collection of notes, observations and haiku verses, titled "Markings," was published in 1964 in the United States and hailed as an inspirational message on rooting a life of international public service in deeply felt meditations.
In addition, it attracted literary notice because the direct translation from Swedish by Leif Sjoberg was refined by the poet W. H. Auden, who also contributed a foreword. Emblematic of the book’s reception was a front-page rave in The New York Times Book Review that credited Auden with rendering Hammarskjold’s thoughts in "pellucid English" and called the book "the noblest self-disclosure of spiritual struggle and triumph, perhaps the greatest testament of personal devotion, published in this century."
Now, with the beginning of United Nations commemorations of the centennial of Hammarskjold’s birth in July, the book is attracting attention again, and so is the involvement of Auden – though for reasons unsuspected by the millions of Americans who have read "Markings."
Swedes familiar with the original say that Auden took large liberties with the Swedish text, misunderstanding some of Hammarskjold’s allusions, misconstruing others to inject his own religious and cultural biases and even altering citations in a way calculated to turn Hammarskjold’s musings on friendship into Auden’s expressions of anxiety at being neglected by a longtime lover. They also dispute the skeptical view that the Auden foreword took of Hammarskjold’s disciplined self-assessment, his expressions of mysticism and his characterizations of his inner battle as "my negotiations with myself – and with my God." Auden, who died in 1973, questioned Hammarskjold’s premise that the book was his true profile because, he wrote, "no man can draw his own ‘profile.’ "
" This behavior seems to me to be a kind of crime," said Kai Falkman, a retired Swedish diplomat who has scrutinized the text and has written scholarly essays citing hundreds of flaws, starting with the translation of the book’s title, "Vagmarken" in Swedish, as "Markings." He said it should be "Waymarks," the word from the King James version of the Bible (Jeremiah 31:21) that was Hammarskjold’s source.
" What do copyright lawyers say about deliberate falsifications of serious texts?" Mr. Falkman asked in an e-mail message from Stockholm. " It is a pity that foreigners will never be able to understand the purity and beauty of Hammarskjold’s language," he said. "I feel that Auden did not understand this austere, serious, exacting man who was very much a product of Swedish austerity, sense of duty, men of few words and lonely farmers and mountaineers in far away places."
Richard Davenport-Hines, an Auden biographer, confirmed that it was the poet’s habit to "embed highly subjective, clandestinely self-revelatory comments" in his writings "both to clarify his own mind and for the in-joke edification of his closer friends." At the time, Mr. Davenport-Hines said, Auden was troubled over his turbulent relationship with Chester Kallman, a lover of two decades who in 1963 had taken up separate living quarters in Athens.
" Repeatedly in his prose writings, at times of crisis in this relationship, Auden wrote in a parabolic way about Kallman, or his feelings for Kallman, sometimes as a preliminary to alluding to the same subjects in his next poems," Mr. Davenport-Hines said in an e-mail message from London. "And that is what happened in his translations of ‘Markings.’ "
As an example, he said Auden changed Hammarskjold’s ruminations on the bonds of "friendship" into pained confessions of lost "love," a word that the Swede did not use. "When Auden wrote the sentence, ‘Perhaps a great love is never reciprocated and I only understood much later that his words had hurt so much because my love had still a long way to go,’ he was surely thinking about Kallman and expecting his words to be read by Kallman and their more intimate friends," Mr. Davenport-Hines said.
He also said that by 1963 Auden, who was born in Britain but became an American citizen, considered a phase of his own return to Christianity in the early 1940’s to have been histrionic and false, and that this might well have made him distrustful of the sincerity of Hammarskjold’s professions of faith. While confirming Auden’s meddling, Mr. Davenport-Hines said he thought that over all Mr. Falkman had been too "severe and unforgiving" in his attitude about Auden. "I don’t think one can expect poets to make their translations as neutral as diplomats make their translations of official documents," he said.
Sir Brian Urquhart, a former United Nations under secretary general, said he had been the one to enlist Auden, a personal friend, after American publishers insisted on a "name" translator. " We asked Auden to supper one evening to convince him he ought to do the book," Sir Brian recalled. "Auden was drinking quite a lot at that time, and he was in a very spiky mood about Kallman."
Sir Brian said he had not accompanied the project to the end, but added: "I do remember there was a feeling among Swedes right from the beginning that Auden had used his predilections rather to distort Hammarskjold’s meaning. I think they thought that the very Swedish nature of Hammarskjold’s writing had been gussied up by Auden."
Jan Eliasson, Sweden’s ambassador to Washington, said the commotion over the translation was "a bit of an eyebrow raiser" at home but had not touched the memory of Hammarskjold, who, he asserted, remains a legendary figure in Sweden. " He’s known by every Swede," he said. "It’s like your Kennedy assassination memories, all Swedes who were alive on the 17th of September, 1961, can tell you where they were when they heard the news of his death."
Mr. Eliasson becomes president of the United Nations General Assembly this fall, and he has adopted a suitably diplomatic approach to the dispute over the translation. "Our view is that it is good to discuss this because it will bring ‘Waymarks’ to public attention," he said.
4 November 2005
Study of Swedish policy and administration of LGBT issues and international development cooperation
Find enclosed to this mail a study by Lotta Samelius and Erik Wagberg on LGBT issues and development. The study was conducted during 2005 andconsists of a desk study of Swedish policy and administration of LGBT issues at Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) and SwedishMinistry for Foreign Affairs. Case studies of the life situation of LGBT persons and organsations working with LGBT rights, health and visibility were made in South Africa, Moldova and India.
The study concludes that issues in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity in development should be fully included in a framework of human rights and that policy and administration of LGBT issues should be situated within a gender equality and social equity discourse.
If you have comments, questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact the authors or Sida.
Lotta Samelius, E-mail: email@example.com
Erik Wagberg, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sida, E-mail: email@example.com
07 December 2006
Swedish gay blood ban stays
Plans to repeal Sweden’s ban on gay blood donors have been delayed for at least a year. Last August, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare announced they would be reviewing the rule, introduced to prevent the spread of HIV, with many thinking it would be amended to allow donations from gay men who had not had sex for six months. But a medical adviser told the Board that more analysis is needed.
Torsten Mossberg told Swedish English-language paper The Local: “The board will make the decision, but we will be recommending that men who have sex with men remain banned. We need to carry out a more thorough risk analysis, and expect to return with a new proposal towards the end of next year.”
6 December 2006
Church of Sweden gives gay couples church blessing
Gays in Sweden will as of January be able to receive religious blessings of their same-sex unions, the Swedish Lutheran Church decided on Wednesday, but stopped short of allowing gay marriages. "Same-sex couples can now receive an official church blessing in the Swedish Church," the church said. Sweden allows gay couples the same rights as married couples, but the law still defines gay unions as "partnerships", not "marriages".
The Church board said couples who had entered into legal civil unions would be able to hold a wedding-like ceremony in the church, which would not however include an exchange of vows. The church is by law not allowed to officiate civil unions. A government-appointed committee is currently examining whether Sweden ought to change a 1987 marriage law to make it "gender neutral", eliminating the last distinction between heterosexual marriages and homosexual unions.
Gays were in February 2003 granted the right to adopt children. While some church ministers have already agreed to bless same-sex unions, gay couples have so far not been ensured the official right to a blessing in the Lutheran Church, which until 2000 was a state institution. It still counts 7.2 million members out of a population of nine million. Individual priests may decline to perform the blessing, but the congregation will be responsible for ensuring that a blessing is provided.
March 16, 2007
Church of Sweden Open to Gay ‘Marriage’ Ceremonies
Stockholm, Sweden (AP) – Sweden’s Lutheran Church is willing to "marry" gay couples in church if the government decides to make same-sex weddings legal, a spokesman for the Swedish Church Assembly said Friday. Since 1994, Sweden has recognized civil unions between homosexual couples, but marriage in the traditional sense has remained illegal. On Wednesday next week, however, a government-appointed committee will present a report on whether the law allowing civil unions between homosexuals should be changed to also include marriage.
Bishop Claes-Bertil Ytterberg, spokesman for the Swedish Church Assembly, the decision-making body for the Church of Sweden, said that if the report proposes a law change to allow homosexual weddings, the church will support it and will open its doors for same-sex ceremonies. But it will be up to the individual priest to decide whether to perform it.
"There’s been a long discussion and this is a stance that has developed along the way," he said. But, Ytterberg said, even though this would mean that homosexual couples would be wed in the same way as heterosexual couples, the church would like the ceremony to have a different name. "It (the ceremony) joins them in the same way," he said, "but we want it to be called something else because (the word) wedding is so traditional and is reserved for men and women. But the name (of it) is another question."
The church blessing of homosexual couples has been a debated issue within the Swedish church community, but in 2005 it decided to allow special church ceremonies to mark civil unions. Ytterberg said there is still some rifts on the issue within the church, but that it had become less visible, particularly among its younger members. Around 7 million of Sweden’s 9 million inhabitants belong to the Church of Sweden, but few attend church regularly.
The Associated Press
23rd July 2007
LGBT groups get UN recognition
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has voted to accredit two gay rights organisations. Delegates came down in favour of allowing the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) consultative status. 22 countries voted in favour of both groups. Thirteen voted against the Quebec coalition and fourteen against the Swedish federation. ECOSOC accreditation governs whether NGOs can attend UN meetings, submit written statements, make oral interventions, host panels and get access to UN buildings. The NGO committee had advised against admitting the gay groups.
In 2006 the German lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federation and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) were refused observer status at the United Nations. Friday’s decision on the Quebecois and Swedish gay groups had been preceded by forceful lobbying campaigns from countries such as Egypt that do not consider LGBT persons to have legal rights. Canada and other countries argued that LGBT people should be heard at the UN.
Sören Juvas, the president of RFSL, called the decision extremely gratifying. "The work that was necessary to reach it has shown the need for a clear voice in favour of LGBT persons’ rights in the United Nations," he said. ILGA and Amnesty International estimate that there are currently 90 countries in the world where homosexual contacts are illegal. In several countries, homosexuals risk the death penalty purely on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
"RFSL now has the possibility to, together with others, affect and improve the situation for the world’s LGBT persons," Mr Juvas added. "We will do everything we can to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities, rights and obligations, regardless of sexual orientation, gender affiliation or expression of gender
4th August 2007
50,000 join Stockholm Pride parade
Some 50,000 people have marched through Stockholm on Saturday in the 2007 Stockholm Pride parade. Groups representing teachers, police, members of parliament and priests marched in the parade to show support for gay rights. Dress ranged, as usual, from minimalist to maximalist. Some men wore only leather pants and displayed rippling torsos; others, such as well known drag-queen Babsan, Lars-Åke Wilhelmsson, wore more elaborate outfits. Babsan paraded through town on a car roof wearing a glamorous confection.
One couple to stand out from the crowd was Joachim Schwartzbach and Frode Tolleröd. Their tiny outfits were complemented by large feather wings and 4,000 crystals placed around their bodies. "It’s important to show who you are and dare to stand up for it," said Schwartzbach. Organizers estimate that 50,000 people paraded, while around half a million people watched the parade’s progress through the capital. But despite the great public interest and the fact that the Stockholm Pride has previously been attacked by right-wing extremists, police commander Lars Lindros said he expected the afternoon to go smoothly. The biggest problem will be the heat, but we can solve that with lots of liquids," he told news agency TT.
This year’s parade was the first in which priests from the Lutheran Church of Sweden took part. Ann-Cathrin Jarl, the Archbishop’s closest aide. "I think that it is time for the Church of Sweden to give itself some good PR," she said. A large number of members of parliament and ministers also participated. Finance minister Anders Borg said: "I think it’s important to take part in demonstrations for tolerance and openness," he said.
August 19, 2007
Gay Jesus Photos Spark Violence In Sweden
Violence broke out over a gay Jesus art show in Sweden Aug. 12. The controversial images also appear in the new book "Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More" by Rev. Kittredge Cherry. The fight began when a group of young people tried to set fire to a poster at a cultural center that was showing photos of Jesus in contemporary queer context. Staff intervened and as many as 30 people joined the fight, according to news reports. The conflict occurred in the Swedish city of Jonkoping, known as a center of evangelical Christianity.
Swedish photographer Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin created her "Ecce Homo" series by putting Jesus into a contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) context. An online gallery of selected gay Jesus images, including Ohlson Wallin’s work, was recently added to Cherry’s website, JesusInLove.org. "The violence in Sweden is the latest example of why the queer Christ is needed," said lesbian Christian author Cherry. "People try to censor the gay Jesus, but I compiled queer Christ images a book to show that Christ belongs to everybody, even the sexual outcasts. Jesus taught love, but now Christian rhetoric is being used to justify hate and discrimination against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."
"Art That Dares" is packed with color images by 11 contemporary artists from the United States and Europe. They work both inside and outside the church, but all of their art respects the teachings of Jesus. In the book, the artists tell the stories behind their images, including censorship, hate mail, violence, death threats, and vandalism that destroyed their work. A lively introduction puts the art into political and historical context, exploring issues of blasphemy and artistic freedom.
In addition to the Swedish photos, the explicitly queer Christian imagery in "Art That Dares includes a 24-panel gay vision of the Passion by New York painter F. Douglas Blanchard,/b> and the notorious "faggot crucifixion" painting by Atlanta’s Becki Jayne Harrelson. Gary Speziale sculpts a sensuous moment between a nude Adam and the new Adam, while Alex Donis shows Jesus kissing a Hindu god. Rev. Cherry was at the forefront of the sexuality debate at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches as National Ecumenical Officer for Metropolitan Community Churches. She holds degrees in journalism, art history and religion.
17th September 2007
Swedish government funds gay rights group
by Tony Grew
Sida, The Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation, a government agency under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has granted 1.9 million Swedish crowns (approximately 200,000 euros) to RFSL, the Swedish federation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. 1.1 million Swedish crowns (116,000 euros) will go towards supporting ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association. The money will finance two ILGA board meetings with the world board, participation in regional ILGA conferences, support the ILGA transgender secretariat and the women’s secretariat and the part-time employment of a fundraiser. The funds donated to ILGA through the RFSL will make it easier to ILGA to co-ordinate its international work and strengthen ILGA’s ability to achieve its goals.
Earlier this year The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted money to RFSL for financing of the first Pan African ILGA meeting in Johannesburg. ILGA is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people everywhere. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 560 member organisations. Every continent and around 90 countries are represented. ILGA member groups range from small collectives to national groups and entire cities
Gay Marriage in the Cards
Sweden’s three opposition parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party have put forward a motion in the Swedish Parliament to allow gay marriages. There is wide support in the parliament for the move, with the only party against the plans the Christian Democrats. They are also in a minority in the government, with three out of four of the ruling parties also in favour, but the Christian Democrat’s opposition means the government is unable to put forward a motion itself.
This is the first time the three opposition leaders have put forward a common motion, and they are now hoping enough gay friendly MP’s from the government parties will rebel so they can get a majority in the parliament vote. The government’s small majority mean that only four MP’s have to switch sides. Swedish gays and lesbians can currently become legal partners, but this isn’t quite the same as heterosexual marriage.
27th October 2007
Moderates back gay marriage
Sweden’s Moderate Party on Saturday gave its backing to gender-neutral marriages. A large majority of the conference delegates were in favour of a change to the law. The party agreed that the decision of whether to conduct same-sex marriages should be up to the local parishes. The party conference also agreed that lesbian couples should be entitled to artificial insemination treatment at state hospitals and that homosexuals can adopt children. Six of parliament’s seven parties have now given their backing to gay marriage . Only the Christian Democrats are opposed and they have vowed to continue arguing against it. A parliamentary inquiry’s proposal to introduce a gender-neutral marriage contract is currently under consideration with a response expected by the middle of January.
There is broad support in parliament for a change in legislation. But the Christian Democrats and their leader Göran Hägglund say they will do their best to block the proposal. Hägglund reckons the issue could be explosively divisive of the ruling four-party Alliance. "My position is that I have been tasked by the party to argue that marriage is for men and women. When we discuss it between parties we are naturally open and sensitive to each other’s arguments and we’ll see if we can find a line that allows us to come together," said Hägglund on Swedish Radio’s Saturday interview.
If the four Alliance parties cannot manage to come to an agreement, Hägglund said it would be "incredibly unfortunate" if the three backers joined up with the three opposition parties on the matter.