A Swedish third division team will march in Stockholm’s Pride Parade and is encouraging other teams to follow their lead. The club, Kiruna IF, was the first team in Sweden’s sports history to receive LGBT-certification as a supporter of the community.
Sweden’s Kiruna IF will be marching in Stockholm’s Pride Parade on Aug. 1, and the club’s chairman Johan Kohler is requesting that other teams from Hockeyettan, the Swedish third division that Kiruna plays in, also show their support during the parade.
According to TheLocal.se’s Sophie Inge, Kohler addressed the league’s other teams in a plea on the Kiruna’s website.
“The parade has a sports section where I want to see all the clubs, as well as mine, standing up for everyone’s right to play sports without fear of harassment or being insulted,” Kohler wrote. “So, if you are the chairman or another association leader, put on your match or competition gear and walk with me!”
Kiruna also participated in 2014’s parade, which came before a season in which they became the first club in Sweden to wear rainbow-colored jerseys in support of the LGBT community. Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, the team became the first LGBT-certified team in Sweden sports history by pairing up with RFSL, the biggest gay rights organization in the country. The choice to become certified made international headlines and the jerseys were a hit.
“At the time, members of the club were using bad language and excluding a lot of young talent,” Kohler told The Local. “So we sat down and talked about how we could send out a message – both within our club and to society as a whole – that we were changing.”
According to The Local, Kohler said that the certification includes sessions that help educate the team about LGBT rights and history, as well as having the RFSL certifying all team documents, manuals and rules. The RFSL also ensures there are facilities for transsexuals, Kohler said. The Local reported the process takes roughly six months.
“We want to set a good example of how people should behave within the sport and we aim to make Kiruna the most tolerant town in Sweden in five years,” Kohler said.