Sweden has long been one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world, decriminalizing homosexuality was back in 1944 and passing marriage equality in 2009. Now the Swedish military is letting people know that while its soldiers always shoot straight, they may not live their lives that way.
On Twitter, the Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) posted a message celebrating the EuroPride celebrations in Stockholm and Gothenburg. In the post, the slogan “We don’t always march straight” is shown over the image of two soldiers in rainbow camouflage. An accompanying caption in Swedish reads, “No matter when or where we march, we always stand up for your right to live the way you want with whoever you want.”
WE DON'T ALWAYS MARCH STRAIGHT. Men oavsett när eller var vi marscherar står vi alltid upp för din rätt att leva som du vill, med den du vill. Läs mer: https://t.co/bSBtWpUIjK #svfm #EuroPride pic.twitter.com/cMRH4vctRG
— Försvarsmakten (@Forsvarsmakten) July 30, 2018
A Swedish military band is also performing at West Pride at Gothenburg, running August 14 to 19 and also including performances by Mashrou’ Leila and Bananarama.
“We stand up for the values we are tasked with defending,” the Swedish military said in a statement. “The Swedish Armed Forces is an inclusive workplace where we view people’s diversity as a strength. We have been proud Pride participants since the turn of the millennium because it is important that we take a stand and show that we will stand up for the equal worth of all people – whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
We defend Sweden, the country’s interests, our freedoms, and the right to live as we choose,” the statement continued. “Here and now, we are identifying and stopping infringements of these rights on land, in the air, at sea, and online. Because our job is to defend all of the freedoms and rights we enjoy – in the open Sweden we have come to expect.”
The spot follows a similar campaign last year, when the Swedish military posted an image of a pair of combat boots with rainbow laces in advance of Stockholm Pride. “We are prepared to go all the way,” the adjoining caption read. “Your right to live the way you want with whoever you want is our duty to defend.”
Two years earlier, a campaign featuring a soldier in regular camouflage with a rainbow flag badge on her arm. “Some things you should not have to camouflage,” read the text. “Equality is an important ingredient in a democracy.”
Sweden was one of the first countries to allow gay men to serve openly in the military, which it did before homosexuality was removed as a mental disorder in 1979. It continues to be one of the few Armed Forces that welcomes trans service members.