Well-attended Pride Seminar highlighted minorities within minorities

Foto: Civil Rights Defenders

Ardeshir Bibakabadi, Tove Fahlgren, Tobias Poggats and Christine Bylund in a conversation about sexuality, ethnicity and religion. Photo: Civil Rights Defenders

During Stockholm Pride Civil Rights Defenders, together with the Foundation Expo, arranged a seminar that raised the topic of how is it to be a minority within a minority. The seminar attracted around 120 people, and it made clear that one of human rights’ organisations most important roles is to be responsive and provide a voice to marginalised groups.

Being queer while at the same time belonging to a minority or indigenous group is a discussion that rarely comes to the surface. Instead minority groups are often regarded as homogeneous. But being Sami while being lesbian or being Muslim and gay contravenes general standards and increases the risk of double discrimination from the majority in society. To highlight this a panel of experts where invited to a Pride Seminar in Pride House in Stockholm on the 27 July; Tove Fahlgren and Tobias Poggats from Queering Sápmi, Ardeshir Bibakabadi from the LGBT organisation Homan and the disability rights activist Christine Bylund, for a conversation about sexuality, ethnicity, religion and disability from a human rights perspective.

Tove Fahlgren underlined how, in Sweden it is almost easier to come out as lesbian than as Sami – and stressed how loaded the indigenous issue still is in Sweden. Both Tove and Tobias highlighted how it feels to deviate from norms in both the minority and the majority.

The panel stressed the importance of the right to define yourself and your sexuality. The disabled rights activist Christine Bylund emphasised that people with disabilities often are not even seen as having a sexuality and described the problem with coming out as queer if you primarily are seen as an asexual person who is expected to play the part of a helpless victim.

Around the world religion is often a loaded topic and to be Muslim and at the same time gay is in many countries and cultures considered unacceptable and unthinkable. On a daily basis Ardeshir Bibakabadi works and meets queer Muslims who are faced with ignorance and prejudice – both from Swedish society and from their own family and friends.

One central issue for Ardeshir, Tove and Tobias which was raised related to how belonging to a minority you are often held responsible for everything that can be connected to the minority; manifestations of religion, war, land conflicts and cultural conditions for example. This deviation from the prevailing norms about sexuality and life choices ensures that many become confused and that eyebrows are raised.

“It is important to highlight minority issues and look at them from a human rights perspective. Our role as a human rights organisation must be to create a platform for vulnerable groups, to listen and learn from their experiences and give them a voice in the society. Issues of power, rights and identity is never simple, but what is key is to protect the right for each and every person to define themselves and their sexuality, said Johanna Westeson, Human Rights Lawyer on the Civil Rights Defenders and the moderator of the seminar.

Categories: Events and News.
Tags: Ardeshir Bibakabadi, Christine Bylund, Expo, Homan, Minoritesperspektiv, Queering Sapmi, Stockholm Pride, Tobias Poggats, and Tove Fahlgren.
Regions: Sweden.