This is how the Tidö Agreement seeks to divide the LGBTQ movement.
Last Friday, the Swedish political parties Sverigedemokraterna, Moderaterna, Kristdemokraterna and Liberalerna established their Tidö Agreement or Agreement for Sweden. The largest part of the Agreement aims to create a “paradigm shift in the view of receiving asylum” for a “responsible” migration policy. The over 60-pages-long reading cannot be categorized into any other genre than “Swedish horror literature”. Anyone who thinks “these are reasonable reforms” are asked to replace the word “asylum seekers” with “Jews”, or for that matter, “LGBTQI people” to understand these crude proposals that dehumanize certain people. We at Rainbow Refugees Sweden reviewed proposal after proposal and rather than a responsible migration policy, we see a future marked by a humanitarian disaster and personal (family) tragedies for migrants in general and for LGBTQI refugees in particular.
It cannot be stated otherwise that the Tidö Agreement is historic. Traditional Swedish values of not making a difference between people, emphasizing the equal value of all people and Sweden’s long and solid international work for human rights are blown away in favour of a policy that demands that we see certain people as undesirable. Let’s be clear: this policy all but states that those who have not grown up in Sweden for generations are undesirable; everyone from asylum seekers and new arrivals, children and young people raised in Sweden with parents that have immigrated, those who don’t speak Swedish well enough, and those who somehow “disrespect” the (Swedish) population, etc. Although this rhetoric has already festered in some spaces for several years, the Tidö Agreement creates an opportunity for polarization to take root in the state. Soon, the Swedish authorities will be required to make a difference between people and the basic idea of everyone’s equal value is a thing of the past.
We at RRS are shocked by the cynicism expressed in the Agreement. We who commit ourselves to those fleeing war and persecution have often worked against the odds to help these people and have been able to rely on friends, family, and allies to do the same. Many of our friends donate winter clothes, winter shoes and food to our members. Many have opened their homes to LGBTQI people in need. Now our friends, families and allies may come under suspicion through the “census” that the Swedish authorities will carry out – a “census” where they must take biometric data and report those who violate the Population Registration Act. Imagine: you can be reported simply by having an LGBTQI refugee visit your home. It is unnecessary to point out that such praxis is common in repressive regimes, as they look for unwanted dissidents.
Likewise, new “internal” border controls will expand. Read “internal” one more time. It means that some will never really enter Sweden at the geographical contours of Sweden to keep “others” out. Instead, for some the border should be moved to their bodies, wherever they are in Sweden. For many, the struggle to fit in is already a constant part of everyday life. We are not stupid – everyone knows who the authorities will target: If you are not white, you must always be ready to show your passport, and you can get arrested if you have forgotten it at home! In and of itself, it is nothing new. Those who remember the “internal” border controls that took place during REVA 2009-2014 on the subway and other places in Stockholm have it fresh in their minds that non-whites were stopped while whites could pass by. Incidentally, it was partly financed by the EU, in case anyone thought it was an individual invention by the Swedish Police, Swedish Migration Agency and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.
According to the Tidö Agreement, this will be carried out on a large scale and in certain areas, so-called “visitation zones”. Police will be free to stop Blacks and other people who look “suspicious”, rummage through their phones and take DNA samples. This is where the new writing of “morals” (swed. vandel) comes into play. “Do the refugees really live as they ‘should’?” Our members will now have to be afraid that the police will find a picture of a person of the opposite sex in the mobile phone or that they will discover that people from the LGBTQI community can have children too: “she wasn’t really a lesbian, she had children without insemination”. Then the residence permit can be revoked!
A census, internal border controls and visitation zones are not enough, however. This government does not even want “undesirables” to seek refuge in a church, a monastery, or a community, or even hide in someone’s attic. Therefore, they will put asylum seekers in so-called “transit centres” where asylum seekers must spend their entire time waiting for a decision. The wait theoretically takes three months but in reality, takes several years. LGBTQI refugees will be forced to live with the people they fled from. The consequence is already described in research: homo- and transphobia, violence and harassment. This government will also investigate what “restrictions and coercive means” can be used to ensure that asylum seekers are kept there. Transit centres are a proven method of inhumanity. There are several historical examples of them but they are often called something else. We assume that this government did not dare use those names and did not put into words what this is all really about – so far anyway. They are moving so fast now that you can’t keep up!
Perhaps the most frightening thing is the underlying calculation in the Agreement where we in the LGBTQ community are to be pitted against those this government sees as undesirable. A certain unnamed party sees itself as the guarantor of “liberal values”. In the Agreement, they made interesting statements such as “The concept of family shall, however, continue to be neutral”, which means that this government will still recognize LGBTQI families. Should we be grateful for that? They state that within the framework of receiving quota refugees, “LGBTQ people must be prioritized”. If, of course, asylum-seeking queers “are”, in fact, LGBTQI people – the Swedish Migration Agency is infamous of denying us LGBTQI people asylum. This government states that a review of the asylum process must be done to “strengthen quality, uniformity and legal certainty” for LGBTQI people seeking asylum. But even here we cannot rejoice in a belief that the rights of LGBTQI people will be strengthened because the review must not “include expanding the rights of asylum seekers”.
There also lingers a latent feeling that we should be pitted against each other within the LGBTQI movement. Divide and conquer, one usually says. It usually takes this form: appointing 2 – 3 gay white male ministers at the same time as restricting the rights of others within the LGBTQI community. We usually call this “pink washing”, performing a symbolic gesture in support of the LGBTQI movement but actually not caring or acting in a way that worsens the conditions for LGBTQI people. Perhaps this government supports “homonationalism”, a misguided belief that we in the West are superior and must save LGBTQI people from the non-tolerant Muslims/Blacks. The problem in the calculation is that we in the LGBTQI community by definition belong to the undesirables. We are all othered regardless of whether we are Black, brown, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or atheist.
During Stockholm Pride, the LGBTQI movement in Sweden gathered around the slogan “Time to confess colour”. It was a time to “become a united LGBTQ movement, with lots of allies, for everyone’s right to love, to be their true identity and to live the life they want to live”. It was proudly propagated that to get there “increased rights, updated legislation and an open, inclusive society are required”. Parties from right to left had representatives who confidently marched on the streets of Stockholm (though not SD. You have to give them that they are consistent). Now, dear friends who marched in Pride with the train of political parties, it is time to prove your support with action. Did you only march for certain people?
Rainbow Refugees Sweden
Rainbow Refugees Sweden is a non-partisan and non-religious association that aims to support, empower and build networks for asylum seekers and refugees who have fled because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.