A Rainbow Flag Worth Defending? Swedish Armed Forces’ Pride Campaigns 2017-2022


  • Katharina Kehl Genusvetenskapliga institutionen, Lunds universitet




Kritiska militärstudier, homonationalism, regnbågsflaggan, hbtq-rättigheter, Försvarsmakten


Recent decades have seen an increased mobilization of LGBTQ rights in the creation and maintenance of national(ist) identities. One example is how Sweden has been cast as exceptionally progressive with regard to gender equality and LGBTQ rights, in line with earlier notions of ‘Swedish exceptionalism’. Simultaneously, military institutions across a number of countries have attempted to mobilize issues around gender and sexuality in efforts to broaden recruiting and to re-define their societal relevance as security organizations. Since 2017, the Swedish Armed Forces have published a yearly Pride campaign, usually scheduled to coincide with Stockholm Pride, Sweden’s largest Pride festival. Drawing on a combined analysis of visual and textual campaign material, this article firstly looks at the ways in which LGBTQ rights are employed to ascribe meaning to the SAF as an organization and secondly at how this justifies the increasing rearmament and reterritorialization of Swedish defense in the face of growing anti-gender mobilization in Eastern parts of Europe and Russian aggression against Ukraine. By exploring boundary-making moves around LGBTQ rights in the SAF Pride campaigns, it thirdly reflects upon how sexual minorities are made intelligible within the context of these campaigns, and discusses the implications this may have for LGBTQ movements and their fights for LGBTQ rights.


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Tema: Feministiska perspektiv på fred och krig