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Dear Pride celebrators,
On this day, Stockholm would usually be adorned with rainbow flags.
There would normally be an atmosphere of celebration, joy and above all pride as the Pride parade makes its way through the city.
This year, things are different.
However, although we cannot get swept away with the joy of Stockholm's Pride parade this year, we can at least experience it together here – digitally.
Perhaps even more of us will be able to participate in this way. I certainly hope so.
Pride is not just any summer festival.
It is a celebration – but it is also a manifestation of human rights.
It is serious – and joyful.
It is a reminder of the progress that has been made – but also of everything that still remains to be done.
This is a responsibility that we all share. You and I.
We must not stay silent. We must speak up for those who do not dare to speak, those who are not allowed to, and those who cannot.
Here in Sweden and the Nordic countries, we have come a relatively long way when it comes to LGBTQI rights.
But what we see as self-evident – or at least would like to believe is self-evident – is unthinkable in other parts of the world.
In many countries, same-sex relationships are illegal.
Young people are forced to hide and deny their love, and their identity.
LGBTQI people are persecuted, harassed and even imprisoned.
For me, this is totally inconceivable.
But I know that in these countries, those of you who are here today are a source of both inspiration and enormously important support.
I also believe that this task is particularly important right now, when the coronavirus pandemic has put so much on hold and when – in some cases – progress has even been reversed.
At the same time, we must not forget that even here in Sweden there are many people – young and old – who are afraid to be open.
There are families and contexts where views of LGBTQI people are still characterised by prejudice and ignorance.
If you are one of those who cannot or dare not be open about who you are, I just want you to know one thing:
You have the right to be exactly who you are, and there are many of us who stand behind you.
I stand behind you.
And now I would like to wish you, and all those who are celebrating in different ways this year, a wonderful, happy Pride!