65 years of work has generated life altering results for LGBTQ individuals' rights and in 2015 RFSL was in many ways bigger and stronger than ever. 38 RFSL branches around the country is a record. We have a larger operation and more projects within FRSL than ever, and we see it as a positive trend with close to 7000 members.
The needs of those that RFSL works for are growing, especially for LGBTQ-refugees and our friends in the LBGTQ movement around the world. Those who have fled to Sweden risk not getting proper treatment because of a lack of competency in the asylum system, and many risk homelessness and alienation. Friends that fight for their right to exist and for human rights are persecuted in a lot of countries.
It is also a constant struggle to work with rights and living conditions in Sweden, where we are happy that the state’s forced sterilization of trans individuals has ended, but are also very frustrated that the state hasn’t apologized or paid damages for the abuse. We are also worried about the ill-health among LGBTQ individuals, who have worse mental health and higher suicide rates than others, and for the stigmatization surrounding HIV. The image of an “open” Sweden can be an obstacle when trying to stress the need of contributions from society.
Sweden is not open enough, and we meet those who have been shut out. There are obstacles for those who want to start a family that have to be removed, there is a growing threat from racist forces, and many LGBTQ individuals lack a safe home and can be subject to violence without receiving care and without the authorities being able to respond to their situation.
In a tough world, we are very proud of what RFSL is doing and of our friends in this struggle. RFSL has trained more organisations this year than ever so that they can become more inclusive, Newcomers groups have been started for asylum seekers and newly arrived, the first conversational groups for LSS-organisations has been started and we have contributed to single women getting the right to assisted reproduction. We are happy with the results of our work. You can read more about it in this report, but we peomise that RFSL will do more.
Ulrika Westerlund, president of RFSL and Christian Antoni Möllerop, vice president