Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

RFSL: “We are seeing increased resistance at all levels”

The LGBT lobby

Published 19 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
RFSL during a so-called 'diversity parade'.

In the advocacy organization’s annual report, its president, Peter Sidlund Ponkala, writes that 2023 was a very dark year for the LGBTQ movement, claiming that the movement is now seeing “increased resistance at all levels”. This included increased challenges to “cultural expressions” such as storytelling drag queens and rainbow flags.

“2023 was the year when the questioning of LGBTI people’s right to be themselves, our cultural expressions, and our visibility began to be challenged on a broader front. In particular, the rights of trans people were questioned both nationally and internationally”, he says.

At the municipal level, Ponkala says, the movement’s “cultural expression” and “the right to be seen and to take up space” are increasingly being questioned – and this can be seen in the form of increased opposition to flying the rainbow flag or drag queens reading stories to young children.

Although the legislation for “changing” legal gender appears to be liberalized, the RFSL president argues that this is not enough. Instead, she argues that the law should be “entirely based on self-determination”.

“Therefore, we will have to continue this work to make it easier to change legal gender”, he promises, accusing opponents of more liberal legislation of “spreading rumors, half-truths and outright untruths”.

“Advancing our positions”

During the year, RFSL has also focused on lobbying for a ban on “attempts to convert LGBTQ people” and “highlighting the lack of legal security for LGBTI people seeking asylum”. It claims, among other things, that asylum applications from “vulnerable LGBTI people” are rejected in violation of Swedish and international law, and that “stereotypes and prejudices about LGBTI people” are used in the credibility and reliability assessments made by the Migration Board.

It is noteworthy that RFSL has also worked over the past year, according to its own statement, “to counteract an increasingly negative media image of transgender people and disinformation spread in both social media and the media” – something that has been done by contacting various authorities, healthcare providers and decision makers.

“Despite a bleak development, I would argue that 2023 was a year in which we advanced our positions”, he continues, saying that RFSL is constantly looking for new strategies to “strengthen RFSL for the future”.

“We will build partnerships with other stakeholders, with the business community, and find new collaborations. This is important work that we must continue to develop”.

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