Column: Understanding the Rainbow Community in Finland

Text Sergio Pires
Illustration Paula Rio

Being November the transgender history month, we decided to understand a bit more about the LGBTQ+ policies and how the community is living with them.

First, we should consider that Finnish people are usually not very affective and there is this idea of the need for private space. In more recent days, we can observe, however, that younger generations don’t fulfill this idea and are showing more signs of affection, usually with close friends.

In 2013, the experience of growing up as a LGBTQ+ person was considered diverse and variable (in terms of people perceiving and defining or not defining their gender and sexual orientation, and their experiences of social settings, relationships and health).

Surveys made show that young people, who belong to gender and sexual minorities in Finland, are subjected to various forms of discrimination, impacting their wellbeing. Normative concepts of gender and sexual orientation contributes for difficulties and challenges, which means the younger teenagers have more difficulties to come out and openly live their identity rather than younger adults.

In our society, sexual minorities are substantially more numerous, visible and familiar to the population at large than gender minorities.

Compared to others of the same age, young LGBTQ+ people have more symptoms of depression and anxiety, more suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behaviour.

Not only because of cultural differences and normative concepts, knowledge is crucial, and it’s important in the way that people fully understand this issue before they take a side without knowing proper information regarding it.

Finland was considered as the 4th best country to have LGBTQ+ policies and conditions in terms of equal rights and the community protection in 2019, according to ILGA-Europe advocacy group. Even with this high-level ranking, Sakris Kupila, chair of leading LGBTQ+ group in Finland, says that the data is focused on promulgated legislation instead of the social climate within a country; and there is a lot of hate-driven rhetoric regarding this topic.

Even with measures taken to provide the best lifestyle for the people, some still lack regarding trans people. For example, young people dealing with transitions are not provided with medication until they reach the age of 18, which means that these transitions are longer, and the visible exposure time is bigger. They also need to be sterilised in order to complete a transition, not being allowed to have kids in the future if they wish.

In 2016, Seta and Trasek, two Finnish non-governmental organisations that work to provide LGBTQ+ conditions, wrote a report to the United Nations, documenting details about the human rights violations that transgender people face on a daily basis.

In 2018, the Human Rights Centre (Ihmisoikeuskeskus) released a report about the status of the transgender rights in Finland, regarding this issue of sterilisation required in order to complete a transition.

A new Council of Europe report, on 2019, regarding the state of human rights in Finland, concludes the Nordic nation falls on a range of issues, including trans laws, and the government has now two years to fix the issue. This deadline highlights positive times in the near future.

By setting the record on the rainbow community rights, Finland might be able to present itself as a modern Nordic state, leaving its reputation of the past regarding Russia behind and fully work or establishing the idea of equality.

The positive note about Finland regarding taking this position in legislations can also be supported by the fact that there exist a couple of historical LGBTQ+ people like the artists Tom of Finland and Tove Jansson, who are canonized in the history of the country. Also, the media tries to portray a broader spectrum of people in terms of gender, sexuality and affective relationships. A recent conservative wave circling Europe is also making more people becoming vocal about issues such as equality, progressive legislations, and how they should really be performed.



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