In a landscape where movements such as #MeToo continue to bring forward important debate regarding the treatment of women in society and throughout industry, more and more crucial steps are publicly being taken with regard to gender equality. It is, of course, an issue which has been burning long since the times of the Suffragettes, and it appears that it is an issue which will continue to be fought online, and will burn on for some years to come. In recent news, a music festival in Sweden – set up to invite non-binary and transgender women only – has earned the ire of Swedish authorities in a twist on the gender equality debate.
According to The Independent, the Statement Festival was hosted in Gothenburg, Sweden in August this year – and it has recently been found guilty of discrimination, having outright banned men from attending. The party involved in the finding is the Discrimination Ombudsman, who investigates complaints made within the country’s borders with regard to potential violations of discrimination law.
While the festival did not enforce bans on men from buying tickets to attend, there was clear indication that male guests would not be welcome. The DO found that such event being described as ‘male-free’ was discriminatory, and thus breaking Swedish law. They haven’t, however, found evidence of anyone having suffered as a result of the ban, and as such, the festival’s organizers will not be penalized.
Statement Festival informed followers on Facebook with regard to where they stand on the verdict. “The success of the Statement Festival shows (the reaction and verdict) is exactly what we need, and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”
DO Class Lundstedt advised that ongoing concerns regarding sexual assault at music festivals are legitimate and require action – however, the verdict stood with regard to Statement breaking discrimination laws.
“Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this. However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website do.”
It will remain to be seen what happens from here on out. “We haven’t been able to prove that someone would have been discriminated against in connection with the implementation or that someone would have been rejected,” the DO conceded.