Sweden adopts hate crime legislation protecting trans people


Yesterday, May 16, the Swedish Parliament made the decision to protect trans people against hate crimes. At the same time a first decision has been made to include trans people in the hate speech legislation.  

RFSL (The Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights) and RFSL Ungdom (The Swedish Youth Federation for LGBTQ Rights) have asked for this change for a long time in order to strengthen trans people’s rights in Sweden. That means that trans people will be included and recognized in the Swedish constitution for the first time and that the protection of trans people as a group is strengthened.

– This is a very important change for our clients. We meet many trans people who are subject to hate crimes. The inclusion in the legislation means getting one’s existence and reality confirmed, which can mean a lot in the processing of what’s happened, regardless of whether if it leads to a trial or not, says Kina Sjöström, counsellor at RFSL’s Crime victim support.

This Monday ILGA Europe published its yearly mapping of LGBTI people’s rights in Europe, Rainbow Europe, where Sweden is at the tenth place in the country ranking. Twelve countries in Europe are already ahead of Sweden when it comes to legislating against hate crimes and hate speech towards trans people. Among others, these countries include Albania, Finland, Greece, Spain and Hungary.

– In Sweden we have a self image of being at the forefront when it comes to LGBTI people’s rights, but it’s obvious that it isn’t true. With this legislation we take a step towards a legislation where all groups who risk being subject to hate crimes and hate speech because of they are, are protected, says Emelie Mire Åsell, RFSL’s spokesperson on trans- and intersex issues.

RFSL and RFSL Ungdom are however critical to the chosen term “transgender identity and expression”, that will be the term used this new piece of legislation. We would have preferred that the protected grounds were named “gender identity and expression”, which would be more in line with the internationally used terms used for protecting trans people.

Prohibition against hate crimes against trans people is suggested to come into force July 1 this year. This fall the Swedish Parliament needs to make a second decision on hate speech in order for it to be adopted, since it’s a change of the Swedish constitution. That change is proposed to enter into force January 1, 2019.