|Note: - The First GLB Suicide Web Page for an Individual European Country became available in August, 2000: Norway's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Suicide Problems.|
Homosexuality Situation in Sweden in 2000 according to Anna Mohr, Chief of the RFSL.
History of Homosexuality in Sweden: Highlights from Jens Rydström (1999) with Commentaries.
Homosexuality Status In Sweden Today.
Could there be a significant GLB youth suicide problems in Sweden?
Additional relevant information about Sweden.
A 2002 GLB Youth Study: Behov hos unga bi- och homosexuella: Samtalsområden och uttryckta behov vid en stöd- och informationstelefon respektive i stödgrupper för unga bi- och homosexuella - by Jonas Tillberg.
A 2002 Study of 1,245 Same-Sex Attracted Youth in Sweden.
2005 National Public Health Survey, Sweden: Sexual Orientation & Transgender Related Suicidality.
The GLB Suicidality Problem Likely Continues to This Day. A Problem Among Many?
"YOU cannot have better conditions of life for a homosexual in any country than Sweden."This assertion, however, may not be true given some facts presented in the same article based on what was said by Anna Mohr. For example,
"Apart from trying to change [significantly anti-homosexual and highly heterosexist] attitudes in society, the RFSL is also 'fighting political injustice in the legal system. For instance, a homosexual cannot adopt a child, but a single parent can. And we think that is absolutely unfair,'' she said."Tolerance, is not understanding, and a situation of tolerance existing, but only as long as these 'tolerated' people do not acknowledge that they exist, may not be tolerance at all. It is more like the kind of highly homophobic 'tolerance' that still exist in the American Armed Forces where the "Don't Ask. Don't tell" policy applies. In the United States significant suicide problems have been reported for GLB adolescents/youth. The Swedish "homosexuality" situation with respect to offspring being GLB is also remarkably similar to what has been reported in North America:
"We have a growing tolerance in Sweden of homosexuals as long as they do not talk about it. But, of course, I would not want my own son or daughter to be a homosexual. Your parents do not expect you to be anything but heterosexual.''
"So, even in Sweden, the first thought which strikes a homosexual is: What will my parents say. 'The attitude is still negative. I cannot think of any parents who will say: 'Oh, isn't that lovely! I wished all my life that you would be a homosexual'!' The immediate feeling of parents on being told that their child is gay is anxiety, sadness or guilt, she added.''
"But even in forward-thinking countries such as Sweden, life is not easy for homosexuals. 'There is concern in the western world today about the very high suicide rate among youngsters who do not feel very good about being a homosexual. You might think it is easier being a homosexual in today's world than in my time. But not really so. What we really lack in society today are good role models who can show you how you can lead a good life as a homosexual'."Are suicide problems for Swedish GLB youth being suggested?
In Canada and England, the decriminalization of homosexuality only occurred in the 1960s. But this does not mean that the Swedish people did not continue to be as anti-homosexual as were many in other western countries. For example,
"[T[he 1950's in Sweden were characterized by the same moral indignation against homosexuality that affected many other Western nations. An extensive media campaign painted gays not only as a threat to Sweden's youth and an affront to the public sense of propriety, but even more, it claimed that gays posed a threat to the social fabric and to the democratic process. This campaign was pursued in both the conservative and the left-oriented press. It was particularly the leftist media that tended most to see conspiracies and coteries among homosexuals involved in public life" (Rydström, 1999: 3).
The equivalent was happening in Canada and was also made part of the 'education' given to youth. Youth were to be properly indoctrinated as outlined in the book, The Trouble With Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality, by Mary Louise Adams (1997). Kevin White presents a summary of the situation in a review of this Canadian study:
"For Mary Louise Adams, in her fascinating study of post-war sexual ideology among Canada's youth 'the trouble with normal is its taken-for grantedness and is power as a regulatory sexual category.' (p. 3) 'Normal' in Adams work is the discourse of heterosexuality in the 1950s when the 'difference between definitions of normal (heterosexual ) and abnormal (homosexual) sexuality operated as a profound space of social marginalization and exclusion.' (p. 2) …Adams embarks on a forceful empirical validation of her theoretical position. Following Elaine May's work on the US, Adams sees marriage and the family in the 1950s as the 'only legitimate site for sex' (p. 32): wedlock was the ultimate aim for all youth. In an important insight, she notes that in post-war Canada, youth 'came to symbolize what was 'good' and what was 'bad' about the modern world.' (p. 51) This was reflected in the moral panic over juvenile delinquency. Two major sources of social anxiety - youth and sex - came to be entwined in the lengthy discourse about the sexualization of youth that was central to the debate over delinquency (p. 52): 'the fear of being labelled delinquent was an effective form of self-regulation, a threat to those who might transgress sexual or moral standards.' (p. 82) Hence a barrage of sexual advice aimed at teens valorized heterosexuality and demonized homosexuality. Gender and sexuality demanded a proper fit: girls and boys should be turning into real men and real women and not sissies and tomboys. Abnormality extracted a 'terrible price': 'ostracism, incarceration or psychiatrization.' (p. 106) This discourse was reflected, too, in school sex education and in strongly-enforced obscenity laws that set clear boundaries of normal and abnormal." (White, 1999: 185-7)
"Public attitudes toward sex and sexuality changed radically during the 1960's... But it was during the next decade, the 1970's, that the real breakthrough for gay and lesbian rights in Sweden would come. Already in 1973, the Swedish Leftist-Communist Party presented a motion in Parliament that both homosexual relationships and collective relationships among several persons should be recognized by law. A parliamentary committee wrote in its commentary to the motion (while withholding its endorsement), that "from a public perspective, the cohabitation of two individuals of the same sex is a fully acceptable way of life" (LU 1973:20, p. 115 etc)." However, "homosexuality continued to be classified as a "disease" in public health statistics up until 1979." (Rydström, 1999: 4).
the 'sickness' label had been removed and discriminatory legislation defining
the legal age of consent changed, work was begun on creating legal protection
for gays and lesbians. The starting point for this effort was a state-sponsored
study, initiated in 1978. Published in 1984, the results of this study
provided a thorough review of the conditions governing homosexuality in
Swedish society. It included an historical background, a sociological study,
and legal and sociological arguments for various legal measures (SOU 1984:63).
The recommendations of the study resulted in laws that came into effect
in 1987 and 1988. These included a law regulating homosexual cohabitation.
During the same period, the National Board of Health and Welfare was commissioned
to work toward a removal
of remaining prejudice against gays and lesbians" (Rydström, 1999: 4-5).
with the changes in legislation, public opinion continued to vilify gays
during this period. The same year that saw the passage of laws legitimizing
homosexual cohabitation also brought legislation against 'sauna clubs.'
The new law made it illegal to open or operate establishments in which
sexual activity was permitted and/or encouraged. The law came in reaction
to public outcry against unregulated clubs, which were seen as potential
breeding grounds for AIDS. As a result, legislation regulating disease
control was rewritten to allow for the internment of HIV-positive persons
if the Office of Disease Control deemed that an individual was likely not
to heed instruction regarding safe sex. These laws gave Sweden a poor reputation
in the international arena. It was noted that
the only country with as repressive AIDS legislation was South Africa during the apartheid regime. Sweden's contradictory legislation encouraged homosexual acts by reaffirming the positive social effect of same-sex couple relationships, while at the same time restricting homosexual acts through laws that inhibited anonymous sex, and thus severely limited the civil rights of HIV-positive individuals" (Rydström, 1999: 5).
These outcomes are usually the results of GLB people presenting the falsehood that, if only GLB people were given equal rights, then all this "public sex" engaged in my so many GB males in the western world would not exist. Often enough, over the years in Calgary, but also in other cities, I have seen the same issue argued in the same way in newspaper articles and letter to the editor. Yet, even in the so -called "Gay Capital" of the world, Amsterdam, I have seen commentaries related to the fact that, even with equal rights, this aspect of the sexuality of GB males continues when it has also been believed that it would disappear with "equal rights.". Unfortunately, when such deceitful arguments are put forth by GLB activists to have equal rights granted, the objectives of the ones who hate will be to "regulate" homosexuality and homosexual behavior. That is, they will seek to make what is hated - any visibility of homosexuality - as invisible as possible, but new laws will be required to address these issues. In other words, the apparently 'good' GLB individuals seeking legal equality (or lesser discrimination) end up using a significant sector of the male homosexual population as the 'bargaining chip' - as they affirm/confirm the rights of those who hate homosexual to not only make laws that will grant one 'legal equality', but that they will also have the right to decree via new laws that a significantly large group of homosexual males will be treated as criminals if they are not the types of homosexuals deemed to be acceptable to the state with a tradition of hating homosexual people. The negative outcome of this situation is that homosexual people are decreed to be "good" if they are like most heterosexual people who get married, and the "bad" homosexual individuals ar all those who do not accept to be like heterosexual people.
a few years after the "sauna club" and internment laws were passed in Sweden,
Denmark became the first country to fully recognize the rights of cohabitant
homosexuals by establishing a special form of civil marriage for gay and
lesbian couples, officially titled "registered partnership." Denmark having
shown the way, registered partnership now became a matter of public debate
also in Sweden. In 1994, despite firm opposition from conservative and
Christian factions, a law establishing registered partnership status was
finally approved in the Riksdag (1994:1117). their sexual orientation...
But while Swedish society has become more tolerant, there is also an increasing
expectation that homosexuals live in monogamous couple relationships. Anonymous
sex in public parks is not something that the general public finds appropriate,
and legislation certainly reflects this attitude. And though public opinion
seems to require monogamy, the time is not yet ripe for homosexual couples
to adopt children according to a recent poll. According to this September
1999 survey, only 30% were in favor of
allowing gay and lesbian couples
to adopt, and fully 58% were against such adoptions. In April 1999, a parliamentary
committee was appointed to examine the issue of child rearing in homosexual
families. The committee is due to present its findings in January of 2001"
(Rydström, 1999: 6-7).
The situation is Sweden is therefore not much different than the one existing in the United States or Canada where significant suicidality has been reported for gay and bisexual males. Furthermore, in the Canadian province that was the first to enshrine non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its provincial charter of rights (Quebec, 1977), a study carried out about 20 years later reported that 36% of a sample of 629 Men-who-have-Sex-with-Men (a subsample of the Omega Study Cohort in Montreal) reported having attempted suicide at some point in their lives. Their average age was 32 years and related questions were asked in 1999 (Otis, 2000). In other words, enacting anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation may not be reflected in low rates of suicidality for homosexually oriented males.
"Three important reports dealing with homophobic hate crime in three very different countries – Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom – demonstrate a very similar picture of violence and abuse. In Ireland, a 1995 government-sponsored survey found that a quarter of the 159 respondents had been punched, beaten, hit or kicked. In Sweden a 1996 survey showed that 23% of the 600 lesbian and gay respondents had been victims of violent hate crime, and 40% of the sample reported that they were often in fear of hate crimes. In 1996, in a United Kingdom survey of hate crimes against lesbian and gay men involving over 4000 respondents, one in three gay men and one in four lesbians reported that they had experienced a violent attack in the last five years" (Council of Europe, 2000).
Two new studies shows that it is still difficult to be gay, lesbian or bisexual in todays working life N/A. (Archive Link): "Study into the working life of homosexuals and bisexuals. In a study a few years ago, only one percent of heterosexuals in Sweden believed that homosexuals and bisexuals were discriminated against in their working life. However, 35 percent of homosexual and bisexual respondents stated that they had experienced some form of discriminatory treatment. 28,000 questionnaires have now been sent out in order to identify the situation in our workplaces and to establish whether heterosexuals as well as homosexuals and bisexuals share the identified view. More than 13 000 answered the study, which was presented at the conference Gay at Work September 26. The report "Working Conditions and Exposure" [available in English as a PDF Document] - a study performed as part of the efforts to counteract discrimination or offensive behaviour because of sexual orientation, shows for example that 50 percent of the homo and bisexuals are not open with their sexual orientation in their workplace."
"Karlstad University have done a quantitative study about gay and lesbians in The Church of Sweden, The Swedish Armed Forces, The Police, elderly care and preschool. When the results were presented to straight managers or colleagues in fokusgroups, they did not recognize the situation. There is a sort of blindness when it comes to discrimination because of sexual orientation." The study "The Working Conditions of Homosexuals" (PDF Download N/A) (Alternate PDF Download N/A) (Archive Link) (New Link):
Combating Homophobia – “Tolerance”
v. Equality in Dignity and Rights - by Mr. Hans Ytterberg, Associate
Judge of Appeal and Ombudsman against Discrimination because of Sexual
Orientation, Sweden (PDF
Download N/A) (HTML
Format N/A) (Archive Link)
Martinez M, Schrottle M (CAHRV, 2006). State of European research on the prevalence of interpersonal violence and its impact on health and human rights.
This report was prepared within the Co-ordination Action on Human
Rights Violations (CAHRV) and funded through the European Commission,
6th Framework Programme, Project No. 506348. PDF Download.
The studies in Sweden: In Sweden three prevalence studies on violence against homosexuals and bisexuals have been conducted in 1981, 1996, and 2004. The two most recent studies are discussed here. Study in 1996 In the study carried out in 1996, 25% of the 2000 participants stated that they had been a victim of different types of hate crimes due to sexual orientation. Men (28%) were more often victims compared to women (20%). From those victimized 20% had also been exposed to harassment in the work place. Study in 2004 In the new study carried out in 2004, with 2000 participants, the rate of victimization was 52%. The situation has changed in relation to the study of 1996. The number of male victims is 51% and of females 53%. Young persons were most often victims of this type of crime. Seventy-seven percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) under 20 years of age stated that they had been victims of some sort of hate crime. Of participants between 20 and 30 years of age, 64% said so; of middle aged persons 40-50%; and of 60 to 70 year old participants about 10%. Twelve percent claimed they had been victims of crimes of violence, and 11% of sex crimes. Perpetrators were relatives, neighbors, pupils, students, craftsmen, storekeepers, colleagues and authorities. Slander, insult and verbal harassment are the most common types of offences. Thus, hate crimes against LGBT persons in Sweden have doubled since 1996. This is the conclusion of the new study by criminologist Eva Tiby at Stockholm University.
References:Tiby E (1997). Det andra offret: en undersökning om hatbrott mot lesbiska och bögar i Stockholm. [The second victim: a study of hate-crimes against lesbians and gay men in Stockholm]. Lambda Nordic, 3: 10-24. In Swedish.
Tiby E (2001). Victimization and fear among lesbians and gay men in Stockholm. International Review of Victimology, 8: 217-243.
Note: Some study references are missing.
ongoing more negative life situation for homosexually oriented males,
compared to heterosexually orientted males in Sweden, is suggested in
the following study:
Eriksson LE, Berglund T (2007). Health-related quality of life in homo- and bisexual men attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic in Sweden. International Journal of STD and AIDS, 18(3): 207-11. Abstract.
From the Abstarct: "The HRQL in MSM attending a clinic for STD- and HIV testing in Stockholm, Sweden, was investigated in 1996 and 2004, measured by means of the Swedish Health-Related Quality of Life questionnaire. The results were compared with those for men from a general Swedish population sample and with HIV-infected men. The HIV-negative MSM had significantly worse emotional wellbeing, satisfaction with family life, relation to their partner and general health perception, and better physical HRQL compared with the general Swedish population. There were no differences in the emotional and family dimensions between HIV-infected and HIV-negative MSM, but the HIV-negative group scored at a higher level in respect of their physical and general health than the HIV-infected group..."
For an idea of how long it may take a highly educated male to come to terms with his same-sex desires - meaning about the age of 30 years - as the result of related social anti-homosexuality 'education', see My Personal Story: Growing Up Gay by Dr. Niclas Berggren (http://hem.passagen.se/nicb/story.htm) (Archive Link). Although Dr. Berggen does not speak of suicidality, parts of his story illustrate how easy it would be for many Swedish youth to become suicidal at the thought of being homosexual, or upon recognizing their same-sex desires. Hopefully, Dr. Berggren is not representative of the 'gay' situation in Sweden because this would mean that there are many homosexually oriented males in Sweden who are spending years using one female (or more than one female) to 'prove' to themselves and others that they are not homosexual. Yet, Dr. Berggren claims that since his teen years, "my homosexual feelings were very natural indeed." One now may wonder about what happened to Swedish boys who did not feel that their same-sex sexual desires were normal, and to the ones who still feel this way about their same-sex sexual desires.
The following describes a situation also existing in countries where GLB youth suicidality is common. The excerpt is from Young Lesbians and Gays, a part of the web page titled Lesbian and Gay the Swedish Way (RFSL Pamphlet) (Alternate Link):
The teenage years are the time when you seriously begin to discover feelings that deal with love, relationships and sex. You talk with your friends about whom you're interested in and how to meet him or her. But friends usually assume that everyone's interested in the opposite sex. And frequently the attitude towards homosexuality is openly negative, especially among young men.
Many homosexuals are worried that their friends will discover their real feelings. Sometimes they then choose to avoid their friends. Others try to "prove" their heterosexuality by having many affairs or sexual contacts with the opposite sex. Younger homosexuals claim that the lack of role models and the total invisibility of homosexuality make it difficult for them to come out when young.
For young men there's only "dirty old men" or "nelly queens" to compare themselves with. They can't recognize themselves in either of these images. Young lesbians experience total silence - lesbians, or "dykes", don't seem to exist. In school when feelings are discussed in sex education or health classes, homosexual youth become even more invisible.
In most cases the teaching focuses on heterosexual youths' feelings and sexuality. At worst, homosexual feelings are written off as "something that goes away" when you get older.
"Homosexuality: During the late 1980s, the main sexual health concern was fear of HIV becoming epidemic among young people in Sweden. Generous resources were allocated to information targeting the young, and information on sexual orientation and homosexuality was part of the campaigns. The media responded with an increasing interest in depicting these issues in TV shows and films, and today, gay pride parades colour the city life in Stockholm. In 1994 the parliament passed the law on registered partnership. According to a national survey on HIV related issues, repeatedly performed during the period 1987–97, the acceptance of homosexual relationships has increased steeply during this period of time. 25 More young people admit to a same sex sexual attraction today than 15 years ago, experiment with same sex relationships, and “come out” as homosexuals or bisexuals.6 Fortunately, no outbreaks of HIV or syphilis have occurred among very young homosexual men. 26 In Norway, a coming out process in adolescence is related to an increased risk for suicidal attempts, but this has not been investigated in Sweden. 27"Note: There have been famous GLB Pride parades in Sydney, Australia for numerous years, but this is the situation for GLB youth in Queensland, for example: Thorpy et al. (2008). Open Doors Action Research Report 2008: There’s No Place Like Home: An Investigation into the Health and Housing of Queensland’s Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young People. Full Text. 37% of GLB youth in an internet survey reported having attempted suicide.
"Hej och välkommna till Uppsala! ...You finally put your first foot in paradise! ...The gay paradise! ...The Swedish are generally amazed to hear the representation that the other countries have of their country! In fact you'll rapidly see that the Swedish are not so relax with sexuality that we could imagine as a foreigner. Yes, the Sweden is really open minded with the question of homosexuality, and you'll probably never have any problem in Sweden if you hug or kiss your boy/girl-friend in public... But no, the Swedish are not totally relax with sexuality, and the notion of sex for itself is even less accepted here than anywhere else. No wonder if in our list of the gay places in Uppsala doesn't appear any "sex club", such things are illegal in Sweden. You should also know that the client of a prostitute can be inculped (and yes, the result of that law is that the sex workers have even worst social condition and protection than before). So my first tips for the gay traveller in Uppsala would be: Forget all your fantasies about Sweden, here also they have rules, even if they are slightly different, subtle and not understandable!" (Burri, 2001)
"Founded in 1950, the RFSL [Swedish
Federation for Lesbian and Gay Rights] has 32 branches in Sweden 'where
we are trying to create a social environment where people can meet other
people to exchange experiences.'' The organisation has eight radio stations
and runs three counselling services and all its branches have helpline
phone service" (Bhagat, 2000).
(Microsoft Word 97 for Macintosh Download. However, it may be accessed via Google.com where it will be converted into HTML language for reading. Document is in Swedish. Only the abstract is translated.) This study will be the focus of a workshop to be given by the author at the inter-disciplinary conference "Farewell to Heteronormativity: Gender and sexuality re-negotiated in a Scandinavian context N/A" (Archive Link) to be held at The Humanities Building, Göteborg University from May 23-25, 2002. (Related Information N/A) (Archive Link)
Abstract: Several studies
have shown discrepancies in health between young heterosexuals and young
bi- and homosexuals. One of the aims of health promotion is to eliminate
such discrepancies between groups. Through quantitative and qualitative
methods this study investigates the types of expressed needs that are common
in a group of young bi- end homosexuals in Sweden. It also discusses the
kinds of health promotion work that can be done to meet those needs. Data
have been collected from a telephone hotline aimed at young bi- and homosexuals
(ages 16-25) during 1998. To interpret the statistical data (N=770), interviews
were conducted with six volunteers working at the hotline. Additional data
on expressed needs have been collected from questionnaires in self-support
groups (age 16-25) in Stockholm during the same year. Two types of needs
were found. The first is the need to meet other homosexual and bisexual
youngsters to share experiences, build social networks with peers
and lend support in the coming out
process. The other type of expressed need is that of a changed social environment,
in which there is less homophobia and a greater overall social acceptance
of homosexuality. The author concludes that both these types of needs could
and should be met by health promotion interventions.
I Hanners svenska enkätstudie med homo- och bisexuella ungdomar 16-24 år var förekomsten av självmordsförsök dubbelt så hög bland unga kvinnor, 37 procent, och tre gånger så hög bland unga män, 24 procent, jämfört med ungdomar generellt. Genomsnittsåldern för det första självmordsförsöket var cirka 15 år (10). [In Hanner's Swedish survey of lesbian and bisexual young people 16-24 years, the incidence of suicide attempts twice as high among young women, 37 percent, and three times as high among young men, 24 percent, compared with young people generally. The average age of the first suicide attempt was approximately 15 years (10) Translation by Google]. 10: "Hanner H. Psykisk hälsa och ohälsa hos ungdomar 16-24 år som attraheras av personer av sitt eget kön. En enkätundersökning. Psykologexamensarbete. Stockholm: Stockholms universitet; 2002."
|Attempting Suicide by Same-Sex Attracted Youth in Sweden*
||Males, n = 417
|Females, n = 828
|Never attempted Suicide
| One Suicide Attempt
|More Than One Suicide Attempt
|Thought about Attempting Suicide, Past Year
|Data Source: Hanner (2002)
* Same Sex Attracted Youth: 38.8 percent of girls (n = 846) and 71.9 percent of boys (n = 437) described themselves as "homosexual" or "gay with some heterosexual element"; 45.4 percent of girls and 18.1 percent estimates of the boys as "bisexual"; 8.3 percent of girls and 4.6 percent of the boys as "heterosexual with some homosexual elements"; with 7.6 percent of girls and 5.5 percent of the boys being unsure of their orientation.
The National Public Health Survey: 29 510 people ranging in age from 16-64 years answered questionnaires on sexual orientation, with 320 individuals reporting that they were unsure about their sexual orientation and were removed from the analysis. The final sample consisted of 29 190 persons, 648 persons (2 percent) indicated that they were not exclusively heterosexual. The largest group among those who were not exclusively heterosexual; they were heterosexual with some homosexual elements (here called "hetero-homo") (304 persons) followed bisexual (221 persons), homosexuals (99 persons) and homosexuals with some heterosexual elements (here called "homo hetero") (24 persons).
An internet survey had 3 014 people responding to the question of sexual orientation and 374 persons stating that they were transgender. The total samplke consisted of 3 388 people, 37 percent were women and 63 percent men. 19 people had not indicated biological sex (of which 8 were transgender). The largest group that was not heterosexual was gay (1 821 persons), followed by bisexual (620 persons), homo-hetero (331 persons) and hetero-homo (122 persons).
|2005 National Public Health Survey, Sweden
Sexual Orientation & Transgender Related Suicidality
|Attempted Suicide, Ever % - Suicidal Thoughts, Ever [%]|
n = 374
|16 - 29 Years
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
|30 - 44 Years
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
|45 - 54 Year
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
|54 - 64 Years
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
n = ?
* Web Survey Data: Reported in National Public Health Survey, 2005. - ** National Public Health Survey, 2005. Results also given in Winzer & Boström (2007).
It 'appears" like 1,028 persons did not answer the "sexual orientation" question, and were removed from the analysis. The same applies for those "not sure" of their sexual orientation. The final sample - 29,190 persons: '648 persons (2 percent) indicated that they were not exclusively heterosexual. The largest group among those who were not exclusively heterosexual were heterosexual with some homosexual elements (here called "hetero-homo") (304 persons) followed bisexual (221 persons), homosexuals (99 persons) and homosexuals with some heterosexual elements (here called "homo hetero") (24 persons)'.
|2005 & 2008 National Public Health Survey, Combined
Sweden - Sexual Orientation & Lifetime Suicidality
Men & Women: Ages 16 - 29 Years
n = 12,560
n = 554
n = 215
Taking Your Life
|Ever Tried to
Taking Your Life
|Ever Tried to
|Data Source: Ungdomsstyrelsen (2010)
See: Figur 1.7 & 1.8, Kapitel [Chapter] 1
"Being gay in Sweden is a mixed blessing in my perception.
Certainly, there is a tolerance which is unparalleled in many parts of the world.
However, I feel there is a superficial liberalism and that heterosexism and homophobia runs deep in this 'liberal' country"
"Certainly, everyone must say the right thing and laws must not be discriminatory.However, I think it is still hard for people to be truly open about their sexual orientation in their families or in institutions." (Thomas & Hans quoting Coleman, 1999)
In Sweden three prevalence studies on violence against homosexuals and bisexuals have been conducted in 1981, 1996, and 2004. The two most recent studies are discussed here.
Study in 1996 In the study carried out in 1996, 25% of the 2000 participants stated that they had been a victim of different types of hate crimes due to sexual orientation. Men (28%) were more often victims compared to women (20%). From those victimized 20% had also been exposed to harassment in the work place.
Study in 2004 In the new study carried out in 2004, with 2000 participants, the rate of victimization was 52%. The situation has changed in relation to the study of 1996. The number of male victims is 51% and of females 53%. Young persons were most often victims of this type of crime. Seventy-seven percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) under 20 years of age stated that they had been victims of some sort of hate crime. Of participants between 20 and 30 years of age, 64% said so; of middle aged persons 40-50%; and of 60 to 70 year old participants about 10%. Twelve percent claimed they had been victims of crimes of violence, and 11% of sex crimes. Perpetrators were relatives, neighbors, pupils, students, craftsmen, storekeepers, colleagues and authorities. Slander, insult and verbal harassment are the most common types of offences. Thus, hate crimes against LGBT persons in Sweden have doubled since 1996. This is the conclusion of the new study by criminologist Eva Tiby at Stockholm University.
It is often assumed that I am heterosexual, and my parents often express thoughts like “I wish you would grow up and forget those things”. They seem to think it is unnatural and not normal to be LGBT. They try to influence me to be more “normal”. (Sweden F20)
When my mother “suspected” that I was a lesbian, she read my diary and then when she saw what I had written, she kicked me out. For half a year I had to stay with a woman that I got to know in the only gay café we have in the city. (Sweden F18)
During the last ten years or so, things have been different in my family from when I was younger. My mother used to think of homosexuality as weird, now she thinks it’s completely ok and understands it better. I don’t think anyone in my family has a problem with my being bisexual, and I’m not scared of their reactions. My maternal grandmother used to say she did not understand homosexuality and that during her time “it just did not exist”. But she didn’t try to change me, or anything. I don’t know if she understood what I was telling her, but I think she just accepted it. My paternal grandmother I spoke to about homosexuality when I was a teenager. She did not like it, but when I said that maybe I would one day turn out to like girls that way she was quiet for a moment, then said something like ”Well, I guess it would be alright because it’s you”. I loved her very much, and her comment sometimes makes me smile. Maybe I should be offended, but I’m not. What she was really saying was: I may not understand what you are doing or approve of it, but I will always love you. Considering her age, I’m impressed. If my parents had said something like it, though, I would perhaps not have felt as good about it since that somehow is… different. They are another generation, and I think they should be more open-minded. (Sweden F26)
I was beaten up with a tennis racquet and sticks, kicked, punched, and physically abused by several people at the same time so that at least one of them would hold me down when the others were beating me up. They would hold me down and jam my head into the wall, keep me from breathing. The teachers and the school nurse all knew about it but they never did anything to stop it. I never pressed charges against the school. (Sweden F20)
I was physically abused every day in school for four years. This was because they found me too butch and that I looked like a boy, and of course, because I am a lesbian. Therefore they felt that they should bully me since the first grade. (Sweden F20)
This phenomenon can also be related to the strict enforcement of rigidly separated sets of gendered behaviour by peers who seemed to suspect homosexuality when gender role expectations were not “properly”fulfilled. However, it must be noted that ideas about “proper gender roles”and “proper sexualities”are learnt through a long process of socialisation, reflecting the norms of society. In some societies, LGBT people “represent a chaos which is deviant, that they have to learn more about, to be able to understand, because what they know so far is based on the prejudice of society” (Sweden F44).
I was working as a teacher, and many parents and colleagues kept their distance from me when they found out. (Sweden F25)
The Swedish LGBTyouth organisation, RFST Ungdom, has worked with a project where it was investigated whether Swedish biology books included LGBTpeople and said the “right” things or not. Most books weren’t accepted, and they have been withdrawn from the schools. This project has had a great impact in Sweden and now other institutions has started investigating books in other subjects, and things are getting much better. (Sweden F22)
My school had policies to take extra care not to discriminate LGBT persons. (Sweden F20)
When I accidentally told my co-workers that I had a girlfriend, the effect was immediate. I was left out of everything. No one wanted to chat at lunchtime anymore, there were never any biscuits left for me in the coffee break like there used to be. It was terrible. (Sweden F22)
In the Swedish LGBT community there is a lot of discrimination towards feminine lesbians. (Sweden F18)
My girlfriend and I have experienced sexual comments, inappropriate touching and rude questions from strangers at clubs etc. This does not occur when we pretend to be just friends. We also got pushed and threatened by young guys (approx. 14-16 years old) at one occasion. That was really-really scary, and we're never going back to the location where it happened. (Sweden F22)
I am not very religious but I belong to the Swedish Church. This community does have some vicars whose attitudes towards homo/trans/bisexuals are quite intolerant. It really makes me angry sometimes. And some of the religious communities in our country speak of homosexuality as not only wrong and sinful but as a disease! I suppose it’s the same in other countries, eh? I would laugh if it were not for the fact that these people are quite sincere. It will never stop amazing me how people feel they can act just because they think they can lean on the Bible. Who wants to worship a God who wants to control every step you take, and wants you to harm yourself by not allowing your heart, mind, soul and body to love somebody, just because that person is not of the opposite sex? Many people, apparently… (Sweden F26)
It is on rare cases that some youngsters would feel embarrassed among their peers when for instance the discussion is about homosexuality. It is those who are not sure of their sexual identity who feels ashamed because some of their peers laugh at them. This one can also see as an advantage for sexuality education openness to discussion by young people in Sweden.
SCm: We educate topics such as how to deal with conflicts regarding sexual activities/terminating a relationship, abortion, teenage pregnancy, STIs, condom use and many more. Getting youth to talk openly about them is not a problem. We have observed that......eeeh, if you feel shy to talk about these issues youth don’t talk but by being open you give them an avenue where they can freely talk. Homosexuality in a group when boys are not sure about their sexuality yet can be a challenge. Boys sometimes can feel a bit tensed because they are more likely to be teased. It can be a taboo subject. ..
Lesbian, gay and bisexual children and youth: The situation of lesbian, gay and bisexual children and youth in Sweden has been another area of high priority for the Ombudsman. The office has participated in the planning and carrying out of a study on homophobia in schools, realised by the University of Gothenburg. In 2002 the Ombudsman's office produced information material for school principals, teachers and members of local school boards. The material was named 'Oppression through Silence – Heterosexuality as the Norm and Homophobia in Schools'. This material has been distributed and reprinted several times during 2003, which shows that there is a great demand.
Note: Has there been any changes with respect to homophobia in Swedish schools? What is the present situation?
The Ombudsman against Discrimination on grounds of Sexual Orientation has ceased to exist. On 1 January 2009 the Ombudsman was merged with the other Ombudsmen against discrimination into a new body: the Swedish Equality Ombudsman. The previously existing acts against discrimination were also replaced with a new Discrimination Act. Some of the material on this website may therefore be out of date. For more information, see: http://www.do.se.Homophobia in Sweden: According to the Swedish health institute’s report on LGBT people’s health, the general mental health is clearly worse than that of heterosexual, non-transgendered people. The hard facts are that 50 % of the LGBT people in the age of 16-29 has had suicidal thoughts, compared to 17% for the straight people of the same age. When you look at the actual attempt to commit suicide, 15% of the LGB people in the age of 16-29, and 27% of the transgendered, answered that they have tried to. For the straight people of the same age, this figure was 6 %. Another figure that is very discomforting is that 46% of the gay and bisexual men in the age 16-29 has been subject to violence the last 12 months, compared to 10% for the straight men of the same age...
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