The congress made a lot of important decisions during Saturday, among others to find more ways for older members to get involved, to expand the work on intersex issues and become a better ally in the work for equal rights regardless of disabilities.
The congress started on Saturday with an advocacy space, where the issues that the organisation was to decide on were discussed more freely.
Alice Bah Kuhnke, minister of culture and democracy with responsibility for LGBTQ issues, sent a greeting to the congress via video before the negotiations started.
– You should keep your backs straight and feel proud. You and others in civil society make sure that the development in LGBTQ issues moves in the right direction. RFSL’s work for this group is invaluable.
More Ways for Seniors to Get Engaged
The congress decided to appoint a reference group with the aim at preparing and possibly found RFSL Senior.
The group gets the responsibility, mandate and resources to present a proposal to increase organisation and involvement among older people in RFSL. The group’s purpose is to open doors and create new spaces for older LGBTQ individuals and to initiate a national network for older LGBTQ individuals.
A very happy Birgitta Nilsson, member of RFSL Malmö, summed up the congress’ approval.
– There is a need for a place where older LGBTQ people can meet. For everybody, but especially for those who have come out later in life. There is a need for an alternative to the traditional pensioners’ organisations that often are very hetero normative. I hope there will be meeting spaces all over the country.
Developed Work with Intersex Issues
The congress moreover decided that RFSL should make clear their work for intersex individuals’ rights. RFSL wants to establish the work in more parts of the organisation and give concrete options for more members to influence the direction of RFSL’s intersex work.
– The proposition has two parts. One part that contains the policy RFSL wants to adopt in intersex issues. That policy is completely in line with what the international and Swedish intersex movement wants. The other part is about what we can do internally to welcome and include intersex people, said Emelie Mire Åsell, member of the Association Board of Trustees, who presented the proposition.
Until the next congress, the National Office will investigate whether the target group for RFSL should include intersex individuals.
”Both the LGBTQ movement and the intersex movement wants to see a world with a broader norm regarding gender. Today’s norm dictates that an infant has either a girl’s or boy’s body, gets a male or female puberty and is expected to develop and identify only with the legal gender the doctor assigned them at birth. This norm creates problems both for intersex individuals and LGBTQ individuals. It is therefore not strange that the movements have grown closer”, the Association Board of Trustees writes in their proposition.
The decision was made by a unanimous congress and was followed by applause.
– It is great that we are developing the work with intersex issues. It’s been almost ten years since we started the work, and since then we have learned a lot. We are better at these issues today. It feels great to have the backup of the members and the congress in this issue, concluded a happy Emelie Mire Åsell.
Equal Rights Despite Disability
The congress decided that RFSL should be a better ally in the work for equal rights and disability. Apart from RFSL prioritizing accessibility the organisation should also more clearly function as an ally in political issues about improvements for people with a norm breaking disability.
The background is that issues about rights for people with norm breaking disabilities more often have been addressed by RFSL. This has happened within the Funkisprojektet, that works to counteract oppressive norms linked to disability, sexuality and gender identity. Members have also wanted RFSL to be a better ally.
”It is important that RFSL doesn’t act alone in this field, since we don’t have the mandate to speak in questions concerning disability policy. We need to anchor our statements and actions in the organisations that organize people with norm breaking disabilities. Our standpoints should only be used to act as an ally”, the Association Board of Trustees writes in the proposition.
Lotten Båvik, President of RFSL Nyköping, was happy after the congress’ approval of the Association Board of Trustees’ proposal with one addition; that the proposition should also include people with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis.
– It feels good. I am glad that there now is an awareness in RFSL in these issues. Many people who have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis are also LGBTQ individuals. It is good that RFSL shows that the organisation will fight for these people. Through this proposition, RFSL will be more accessible for its member.
In the Corridors
There were different activities going on all day in the corridors outside the main negotiations. Among other things, Rådgivningen i Skåne had HIV and syphilis testing for the men who have sex with men among the congress participants.
Books were sold in favor of people who live with HIV and condoms were of course handed out.
Speeches of Thanks and Award Ceremony
The congress’ second day was closed with a banquet, speeches and performances. Opera singer Rickard Söderberg made the night a real feast.
RFSL’s former President Ulrika Westerlund and vice President Christian Antoni Möllerop emotionally handed over to Frida Sandegård and Magnus Kolsjö.
During the evening Karlsson Svärds memory award was given to RFSL Dalarna for their fantastic work in getting more people to get tested for HIV through the campaign We are Survivors, which is aimed at migrants. All Newcomers activists present received an award for the work with newly arrived LGBTQ individuals around the country.