PRESS RELEASE October 26, 2004
Stockholm The first conference on honour violence against lesbian and gay immigrants and refugees in the Nordic region -- Honoured to Silence, Honoured to Death, has taken place in the Swedish capital on October 15 -16, 2004 at the Mediterranean Museum in downtown Stockholm and in the immigrant-rich suburb of Rinkeby.
It took years for the Swedish mass media to take up the question of honour violence against immigrant women, says well-known Swedish writer and journalist, Arne Ruth. One of the most important issues today is to shed light on the violence against immigrant homosexuals.
We know that verbal and physical violence against homosexuals occurs in all countries, all cultures and all religions. This conference is not aimed against any immigrant group but in solidarity with those facing abuse both on the streets from neo Nazis and other homophobes and at home by intolerant family members, says Bill Schilller, chairman of Tupilak (Nordic homo cultural workers) and international secretary of the Nordic Homo Council, co-organizer of the conference.
We think its highly valuable to see how this question is being discussed and researched in all Nordic nations -- and how much we can learn from each other, maintains Icelander Stefán Vibergsson, working with the Nordic I Fokus information office in Stockholm co-organizer of the conference. We also want to send an important message to immigrants by holding one day at the Rinkeby Folkets Hus.
First Nordic Study Coming Soon
We are carrying out what we think is the first study of honour violence against immigrants in the Nordic region, and hope to publish this in December says Elisabet Nidjö, RFSL curator in the southern Swedish city of Malmö.
We need to publicize more information on this and have a stronger discussion and offer solid support to lesbians and gays in the immigrant communities, says Andreas Carlgren, general director of Swedens Department of Integration.
We have been interviewing a number of young immigrant lesbians and gays in the Copenhagen area, asking about their coming out process and the discrimination they have faced. We have also been given funding to extend our study to all of Denmark, says researcher Caroline Osander of the LBL project presenting research in both Danish and English to the joy of the participating immigrants from Iran, Uruguay, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania and Hungary -- not always able to handle non-Swedish texts.
I have been surprised to see so little studies on lesbian immigrants anywhere at all, even when attending international conferences, says Dina Avrahami , carrying out research at Stockholm University on lesbians migration, sexuality and marginalization.
Iranian-born Mashid Rasti confirms that she has often received reactions of astonishment from fellow countrymen when she explains that she is representing those Iranian homosexuals too afraid to come out themselves at meetings or at Stockholm Pride demonstrations.
Marna Eide has been carrying out work with immigrant refugees in Oslo and the LBGT project has produced a film Kampen för Kärleken screened at the conference about two Asian gays in Norway .
We have just started working with homosexual immigrants in Finland, and will take up the information presented here to our colleagues back home and to the next Finnish Pride which next year will be in Tampere, says Jani Teittinen of SETA-Finland.
Kurdo Bakshi, who has just published a new documentary book interviewing six lesbians and gays with immigrant backgrounds underlines how difficult it was to find both well-known and unknown subjects willing to come out into the open without fear of reprisals from home.
Stronger Voices from the Swedish Parliament
We all have to raise our voices behalf of the lesbian and gay immigrant in our communities, says Gustav Fridolin, Green Party parliamentarian and member of the Swedish Parliaments LBGT group. This should also be the work of our parliamentary group which with its support from heterosexual collegues is one of the biggest in the parliament.
Lesbian and gay researchers and consulars at the Stockholm meeting have decided to form a Nordic network and the Nordic Homo Council is urging Norden i Fokus offices around the Nordic region to help with future Honoured to Silence conferences.
The follow up discussions will be in Gothenburg on November 6, where the head of the western Swedish Nordic Information office will be a key-note speaker.
For more information: Bill Schiller firstname.lastname@example.org