Statement festival: 'Man-free' event found guilty of discrimination

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Loreen, Eurovision Song Contest winner 2012 performs at the Statement Festival at Bananpiren in Gothenburg, SwedenImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Eurovision winner Loreen performed at Statement this summer

Statement, a women-only festival in Sweden, has been found guilty of discrimination by Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman (DO).

The DO said that describing an event as "male-free" breached the country's anti-discrimination laws.

The publicity issued in the run up to the event "discouraged a certain group from attending", the regulator added.

The event's organisers said in a Facebook post that they are "too busy changing the world" to respond.

"It's sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis [cisgender] men lose it completely," the post added.

"The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need, and the DO's verdict doesn't change this fact."

The DO's ruling acknowledged the man-free rule was not enforced at the festival, held earlier this year, adding that "no differentiation based on sex was made between visitors at entry".

As nobody suffered damage from the festival's restrictions, it added, no financial penalties would be imposed.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Emma Knyckare founded the Statement festival

The two-day festival was billed as "the world's first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender only".

It was created by Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare, in response to a large number of sexual assault offences at Sweden's biggest music festival, Bravalla, the previous year.

Bravalla's organisers even cancelled this year's event due to the reports from 2017.

"Certain men … apparently cannot behave. It's a shame. We have therefore decided to cancel Bravalla 2018," they said at the time.

In an interview in January, Knyckare said that the festival is meant to be a one-off event and that she hopes she won't have to continue organising it in the future.

"The thing we want to do is a really big, nice, loud music festival that is a safe zone for women, transgender and non-binary people," she said.

"It's not a solution, it's a reaction. But it's not a political statement, more of a safe zone where people can just hang out, drink beer and have fun without looking over their shoulders."

In a press release, the DO said: "The decision to initiate supervision against Statement should not be considered as an issue of the serious problem of sexual abuse, including at festivals.

"DO obviously believes that all visitors to the festivals must be able to feel safe."

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