The Swedish Armed Forces' new pro-LGBT campaign hailing “differences and diversity” as a main forte has sparked controversy.
According to Supreme Commander Micael Bydén, the new campaign, which features images of soldiers wearing nail polish in rainbow colours, is about showing a “stance for the equal value of all people”.
Bydén even emphasised that “differences, diversity, and the breadth of various experiences” are a strength, as they increase the military's ability to act unpredictably against an attacker.
The supreme commander also justified the military's participation in this year's digital edition of Pride due to the coronavirus pandemic as a “natural responsibility” and a way of “showing tolerance of the people's differences the army is supposed to defend”.
While this is not the first time the Swedish Armed Forces have voiced their support for the LGBT cause or shown commitment to the Pride movement, this new campaign has sparked accusations of politcal activism, not least from politicians.
Sweden Democrats legal spokesman Adam Marttinen suggested it was not wise for the military to take part in politicised movements, reminding that Pride had previously expelled both the Sweden Democrats and the Civic Assembly parties, despite the latter's leader, Ilan Sadé, being openly gay.
In the comments fields, many suggested that the military was abandoning actual needs and goals and instead pusuing identity politics based on representation and diversity.
“Wearing clothes that symbolise an authority means taking a political stance, authorities should not participate in Pride in official uniform”, one person objected on Facebook.
“Next step is everyone wearing a skirt, what the hell do sexual preferences have to do with the police and the military?”, another one protested.
“The authorities seem to forget their main task. First the police go down on their knees for very suspect people who protest for Black Lives Matter and now this? Sorry but I no longer agree on where my tax money goes to”, another one disagreed.
“If we are to fight the Russians with differently colored nails, then we are probably boned”, another one scoffed at the military's constant ramping up of the “Russian threat”.
“Honest question. The military takes part in Pride for the sake of 'everyone's equal value'. Is the defence present at various events for the disabled for the same goal?", another one tweeted.
Ärlig fråga @Forsvarsmakten är på Pride för "allas lika värde".— Tom Berg 🇸🇪🎗🇺🇸 (@Kvasern) August 2, 2020
Är Försvarsmakten på handikappades olika sammankomster för "allas lika värde"?
“Well, when we are run over by another military, we can at least die die with people remembering us as tolerant and inclusive!”, another one jeered.
När vi blir överkörda av en annan militär så kan vi iaf dö med att folk minns oss som toleranta och inkluderande! 👍👍— Svensk Nationalist 🇸🇪 (@SwedenFirst) July 30, 2020
However, the military's campaign was met with support from LGBT supporters, who hailed its inclusivity and tolerance.
Since the 1980s, the Swedish Armed Forces has gradually slimmed down from a formidable 180,000-strong force designed to handle an invasion to a 20,000-strong force mainly focused on international efforts. The number of actual war units in the army has been reduced by 90 percent over the past 30 years. This change of character spurred a comment from former Supreme Commander Sverker Göransson that Sweden could hold its ground for a week at best.