11:48 GMT +317 October 2019
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    Matters of Grave Importance: Swedes Go for Gender-Neutral Funerals

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    Across the globe, Swedes have a reputation for being relentless champions of equality and human rights. They are dead serious about these things and even take this approach to the grave. Recently, the Nordic country even started offering its deceased citizens gender-neutral LGBT-certified funerals.

    If you're worried about being buried under the patriarchal norms of a male-dominated society, then Gothenburg-based Gillis Edman's funeral home is your choice. The undertaker's staff has received special training in LGBT issues to become the nation's first to offer their clients fully neutral funerals that have no bias whatsoever with respect to issues such as religion or sexuality, Swedish Radio reported.

    "The aim of the training course was to learn the basics of equal treatment, terminology and care. It is based on the UN Declaration on Human Rights, which states that everyone is born free and should be treated equally," the company's CEO Anna Carin Timgren told Swedish Radio.

    According to Timgren, her business is adjusting to the zeitgeist to keep the most demanding customers satisfied.

    "Now the industry has changed and there is much to learn. We meet people who are not getting the treatment they would like to," Timgren explained.

    In recent years, the LGBT-certifying of various premises and activities, including schools, hospitals, churches, real estate companies and refugee accommodations, has become a growing trend in Sweden. Swedish municipalities spare no tax-payers' kronor to obtain certification to strike a blow for the minorities' cause.

    In most cases, certification is carried out by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights (RFSL), which is a volunteer NGO and a major lobbying force for the LGBT community. During the educational courses which include 20 hours of training, RFSL charges 4,000 SEK ($500) per employee. An LGBT certification for a company of 25 employees costs therefore about 100,000 SEK ($12,000) plus VAT. A certificate is only is valid for three years, whereupon "re-certification" is carried out every three years, making Swedish municipalities' certification expenditures total hundreds of thousands of kronor.

    A recent survey conducted by the pollster Sifo, commissioned by funeral home Fonus, revealed that seven out of ten Swedes would like a "green" funeral. The most popular options to reduce one's environmental impact while pushing up daisies include bio-degradable coffins, urns or headstones, as well as burial shrouds made of organic cotton,. One may also have ashes scattered, use biodiesel for funeral transport or use locally produced food and flowers at the service, Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan reported.


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