CSOs fear ban on racist organisations will restrict freedom of association
During the first week of September, 24 Swedish CSOs signed a petition against a proposal presented by the government in May 2021 titled “A ban on racist organisations”. As the name suggests, the proposed measure identifies a ban on organisations that carry out criminal activities to persecute ethnic minorities as the solution to threats of right-wing extremism. The proposal was supported by the Swedish UN Federation back in May 2021, which highlighted the presence of Nazism in the country and called on Swedish institutions to react more firmly to the activities of racist organisations.
However, the CSOs, of which Amnesty is the most prominent critic, do not believe that the proposed constitutional modification would effectively eradicate the spread of racism in the country and stated that further constitutional changes that would enable greater interference with freedom of association should not be introduced. As a matter of fact, legislation that criminalises the expression of racism in Sweden already exists, but its application has major shortcomings. From the CSOs’ point of view, authorities should tackle these shortcomings instead of modifying the Constitution which risks jeopardising the freedom of association of any organisation if applied with a different intention. Moreover, such a strong measure could lead to increased acceptance of racist expression and activities, the group of organisations said.
“Racism is a human rights issue that threatens the equal value of all people and the right to equal opportunities in society. But the inquiry's proposal is the wrong way to go. In the worst case, it could lead to the legitimisation of racist messages and organisations. At the same time, there is great and untapped potential in existing legislation to curb development and intervene against racist crime”- Anna Johansson, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International Sweden (translated from Swedish).
Öresund Declaration advocates for creation of a civic space that is LGBTI+ inclusive
In August 2021, WorldPride was hosted by both Malmö Pride and Happy Copenhagen. The 10-day event offered a dense programme of activities “where accessibility and intersectionality stand in the forefront” with the aim of reflecting on the inclusion of the LGBTI+ community and celebrating its diversity. As a result of this big demonstration, the Öresund Declaration, a “manifesto of goals for global LGBTI+ equality to be achieved by 2030”, was expanded. The document also contains proposals to improve the state of civic space in the world with regard to LGBTI+ rights. For example, point number three: “Make hate a crime: To target someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is a hate crime and should be legislated against in every country” ,and number 15: “Celebrate Pride: Freedom to assemble and express oneself are fundamental human rights”.
Third anniversary of Fridays for Future mobilisation
On 20th August 2021, youth climate activist Greta Thunberg staged a protest outside the Swedish parliament, marking three years since her first school strike which became known as Fridays for Future.
”We kids most often don’t do what you tell us to do. We do as you do. And since you grown-ups don’t give a damn about my future, I won’t either. My name is Greta and I’m in ninth grade. And I am school striking for the climate until election day.” 1/3 https://t.co/LrRgTD2rmE pic.twitter.com/UQPFjzTjV2— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 20, 2021
Civic Space Developments