In recent years, a number of reforms have been introduced in order to secure equal rights for LGBT persons. There has also been a positive societal development regarding these issues which has helped to ensure a better situation for LGBT persons in Sweden. However, LGBT persons, in particular transgender persons, still face difficulties in Sweden. This means that reform must continue to ensure equal rights for LGBT persons.
The formal rights for LGBT persons in Sweden have been strengthened through various reforms. This has involved changes in the law, including the introduction of a principle of non-discrimination, enhanced rights in family law and anti-hate crime initiatives. What follows is a chronological overview of several reforms put in place to strengthen and promote equal rights for LGBT persons.
1944 – sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex were decriminalised. However, homosexuality was still considered to be an illness.
1972 – the Act (1972:119) concerning recognition of legal gender in certain cases (Legal Gender recognition Act) entered into force. Sweden thereby became the first country in the world to introduce a formal option in law to be assigned with a new legal gender after review. Free gender reassignment treatment began in Sweden.
1979 – the National Board of Health and Welfare ceased to classify homosexuality as an illness.
1987 – discrimination on the grounds of homosexual orientation (later changed to sexual orientation) was made unlawful through inclusion in the provisions of the Swedish Penal Code.
1988 – the Homosexual Cohabitees Act (1987:813) entered into force.
1995 – the Registered Partnership Act (1994:1117) entered into force.
1999 – the Prohibition of Discrimination in Working Life on Grounds of Sexual Orientation Act (1999:133) entered into force. The office of the Ombudsman against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation (HomO) was established.
2002 – the Equal Treatment of Students at University Act (2001:1286) entered into force. The law aimed to promote equal rights for students and applicants within higher education and to combat discrimination linked to sexual orientation etc.
2003 – the scope of the crime of incitement to racial hatred was extended to include hate speech based on sexual orientation.
2003 – registered partners were given the opportunity to be considered as adoptive parents. A new Cohabitees Act (2003:376) entered into force, covering both same-sex and different-sex cohabitee relationships.
2003 – the Prohibition of Discrimination Act (2003:307) entered into force. The law forbids discrimination linked to sexual orientation etc. and applied to the following areas: labour market policy activities; starting or running a business; pursuing a profession or an occupation; membership or participation in employees’ organisations, employers’ organisations or professional bodies or benefits provided by these; goods, services and housing.
2005 – extension of the Prohibition of Discrimination Act so that the prohibition of discrimination linked to sexual orientation also included the social sphere, i.e. social services, the social insurance system, unemployment insurance and healthcare.
2005 – same-sex couples got access to assisted reproduction treatment through changes in the Act on Insemination (1984:1140) and the Act on Reproduction Outside the Body (1988:711). Thus, assisted reproduction became available to a woman who is the registered partner or cohabitee of another woman. The provisions are now found in the Act on Genetic Integrity etc. (2006:351).
2006 – the Act Prohibiting Discriminatory and other Degrading Treatment of Children and Pupils (2006:67) entered into force. The law introduced the requirement for plans for equal treatment and a prohibition on discrimination including discrimination linked to sexual orientation in preschool, compulsory school and upper secondary school.
2009 – the Discrimination Act (2008:567) entered into force. The Act replaced previous discrimination legislation and prohibits discrimination on more grounds and in more areas of society than before. Transgender identity or expression were added as grounds for discrimination.
2009 – the National Board of Health and Welfare ceased to classify transvestism as an illness.
2009 – the Marriage Code and other statutes relating to spouses were made gender neutral.
2011 – the constitution was extended to include protection against discrimination linked to sexual orientation.
2013 – Amendments in the Legal Gender recognition Act entered into force. A person wishing to change their gender in the population register no longer needs to be a Swedish citizen or unmarried. However, the person needs to be officially registered in the Swedish population register. Judgements and decisions on changes to gender identity from other countries generally apply in Sweden.
2013 – abolition of the mandatory sterilisation requirement in the Legal Gender recognition Act.
2016 – assisted reproduction treatment within the Swedish healthcare system becomes possible for single women.
2017 – changes in the provisions of the Discrimination Act on active measures. The changes mean that the responsibility of employers and education providers to take active measures to promote equal rights and opportunities now encompasses all grounds for discrimination, including transgender identity or expression and sexual orientation.
2018 – those affected by the earlier requirement for sterilisation under the Legal Gender recognition Act can apply for financial compensation under a new law.
2018 – protection under criminal law for transgender people is extended and clarified. The law changes entered into force on 1 July 2018.