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Festival for 'women, transgender, non-binary' people was discriminatory, Swedish official rules

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Men were discouraged from attending

FRIDA WINTER/AFP/Getty Images

A new ruling by Sweden's discrimination ombudsman has determined that the Statement Festival — an event for only female, non-binary and transgender individuals — represented gender discrimination.

How was this determined?

The discrimination ombudsman made the determination based on statements made prior to the August festival that "discouraged a certain group from attending the event," The Guardian reported.

The comments essentially breached a law that bans gender discrimination, the new ruling stated.

Organizers of the Statement Festival did not enforce the "man-free" rule and no one was questioned before they could enter the festival. And since no one suffered any damages, no penalties will be imposed, the report states.

"It is important to point out what an infringement is," DO press officer Class Lundstedt told the news outlet. "These [infringements relate to] statements made before the festival, that they wrote on their website. Still, we haven't been able to prove that someone would have been discriminated against in connection with the implementation or that someone would have been rejected."

"Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem," Lundstedt added. "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]."

Festival organizers responded to the ruling by writing on Facebook: "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."

Who started it?

The Statement Festival was founded by comedian Emma Knyckare following a number of sexual assaults at Swedish music festivals. The assaults included "four rapes and 23 sexual assaults at the 2017 edition of the country's biggest music festival, Bravalla, which led to the event's cancellation in 2018," the Guardian reported.

Organizers billed Statement as "a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety", and said it would remain a protected space "until ALL men learn how to behave themselves."

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