Good values are nurtured through growth

Ten years ago, a question sparked my introspection: "Have you also taken the journey of self-discovery?"

Skellefteå Pride is a well-attended community celebration marking its tenth year in 2024.

Skellefteå Pride is a well-attended community celebration marking its tenth year in 2024.

Foto: Thea Holmqvist

Ledarkrönika2024-02-19 09:24

This reflection coincides with the tenth anniversary of Skellefteå Pride, prompting me to revisit the remarkable shift in societal values and emphasize the need for continued progress.

In 1979, when I was five, the government ceased to classify homosexuality as an illness. While I hadn't personally encountered an openly LGBTQI+ individual, the prevailing societal and religious atmosphere, particularly within my Pentecostal upbringing, instilled clear boundaries regarding sexuality, heavily influenced by biblical perspectives.

By 1985, the HIV/AIDS epidemic gripped Sweden, disproportionately affecting the LGBTQI+ community. As an eleven-year-old, grappling with limited understanding, I internalized the pervasive narrative labeling homosexuality as both sinful and abnormal.

A decade later, in 1995, registered partnerships for same-sex couples became legal. Attending Bible school at the time, I initially opposed this development. However, internal dissonance began to emerge. I recognized the church's overly restrictive norms and questioned the justification for singling out homosexuality as inherently problematic. While I struggled to support the policy, it undeniably represented a crucial step towards inclusivity.

By 2005, as a father of four, having understood the unconditional love and commitment required for effective parenting, I wholeheartedly approved the right of lesbian couples to access assisted fertilization. This experience broadened my viewpoint, solidifying my belief that good parenting transcends heterosexuality and that every child deserves to feel valued regardless of their sexual orientation or identity.

2014 marked a significant milestone with Skellefteå's inaugural Pride festival. Despite protests from the Sweden Democrats, who deemed homosexuality an "odd interest," the event witnessed a remarkable turnout, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance among participants.

On Saturday, when Skellefteå Pride marked its tenth anniversary, we celebrated the widespread community embrace of LGBTQI+ individuals. However, the fight for equality continues. The current government's stance remains deeply concerning. 

It is still legal to conduct conversion campaigns against LGBTQI people in churches, sports clubs or mosques. At the same time, most political parties claim that equal rights for LGBTQI people in society are part of the Swedish values to be defended. In its zeal to defend these values, the Tidö government restricts immigration as much as possible, ostensibly to keep foreign homophobes in check, but this makes it even more difficult for homosexuals to seek asylum, even if they are persecuted for their orientation in their home country.

Values are a product of constant evolution, shaped by our individual and societal contexts. Our views naturally shift over time. This underscores the critical need for continuous progress and self-reflection. The journey of acceptance and inclusivity cannot stagnate, because stagnation breeds intolerance. We must remain vigilant and committed to ensuring that yesterday's victories for LGBTQI+ rights pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive future for all.