This interview is part of our #LoveWhereILive campaign and of our series “#ProgressiveLocalStories”, aimed at raising awareness on the many positive initiatives implemented by progressive cities and regions in Europe. Cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions and, with this series, we want to discover how progressive mayors, councillors and presidents of regions put in place policies to promote and protect LGBTIQ rights.
As a progressive regional politician, what do you think about the protection of LGBTIQ rights in your city and in Europe?
Protection of LGBTIQ rights are fundamental in a democratic society. We know there is discrimination against LGBTIQ individuals and community and must act to protect their rights and to put an end to discrimination and violations of rights. As a progressive politician, it is a central aspect of my political view to increase and expand democracy and human rights. We have come some way in educating about LGBTQI and increasing the inclusion, tolerance and respect but there is still a long way to go and a lot of work still to be done.
Are there any progressive practical measures taken by your region with regard to the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTIQ people?
Sweden as a nation has for many years included LGBTIQ in the laws against hate-crime and is in comparison to many other nations a good example. Gotland as a region arranges a diversity parade each year to declare our solidarity with the LGBTIQ-community. We have also taken measures within the educational system and sex-education to better address the question of LGBTIQ and each school must have a plan against discrimination, including LGBTQI. If we are to succeed in eradicating discrimination, the education system is vital to talk and discuss democratic values and protection of rights.
Last year, the European Commission proposed its first LGBTIQ strategy and the European Parliament recently declared the EU an LGBTIQ freedom zone. How can the European Union further contribute to promoting LGBTIQ equality and why is this important for your region?
I believe that the package on hate crime and protection of minorities is important to get in place to have a common platform for protection of rights across the EU. The European Union in itself is an arena for sharing best practices and good examples and we as local and regional politicians must step forward and do more to actually fulfill the core value of the European Union, “united in diversity”. That is not only cultural diversity among Member States, but, maybe more importantly, protecting and celebrating diversity among our citizens.