Sweden held the worlds first cisgender male-free festival this last year. It was the only festival for women, non-binary and transgenders. The Statement Festival was later found to be in breach by Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman (DO). Though the festival did not enforce the man-free rule at the entrance, and nobody was asked or questioned at entry, because of statements that were made before the event, the festival was in breach of the law.
Following a number of sexual assaults at the country’s largest music festival, Bravalla, creator and comedian Emma Knyckare wanted to create a safe place for all. Bravalla Festival was cancelled after 4 rapes and 23 sexual assaults happened in 2017. By creating the Statement Festival they had finally created a place that people could enjoy a festival, without fear.
On Facebook the organizers say, “It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely. The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”
The fact that there were any rapes at a festival should be a warning. Class Lundstedt, the DO press officer, said, “Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this. However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website [did].”
We would like to hear from Lundstedt what he thinks would be an “appropriate” way to handle this problem. Because it seems that even with the town’s support with funding, the people against the idea were louder.