By Robert Clarke of Alliance Defending Freedom
Written in 1948, George Owell’s “1984” looked to the future and warned against government control and the unquestioning obedience of its citizens. In the novel, “thoughtcrime” was the criminal act of having beliefs that opposed or questioned the prevailing orthodoxy. The government attempts to eradicate such “crimes” by removing words from language which could otherwise be used to express forbidden opinions.
If Orwell found himself in Sweden in 2014, some things would feel uncomfortably familiar—especially if he was at one of the many libraries, health centers and public sector organizations that have undergone HBT certification, a program designed to make homosexual, bisexual, and transgender issues mainstream in society.
The HBT certification program was created in Sweden in 2008 by RFSL (known in English as the National Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) to advance the homosexual agenda. Schools, libraries, and various organizations become certified after submitting to intense scrutiny, undergoing mandatory training sessions, and paying a hefty fee.
The program overtly seeks to “change attitudes” by trying to combat discrimination and promote equal opportunity for the LGBT community. This includes removing books from the shelves of public libraries that favor specific gender roles, amending stationery in businesses to include gender neutral language, and restricting the vocabulary used by employees in their routine interactions with customers and clients to be more inclusive.
Sollentuna Library District, the first municipal library to be HBT certified, explains that undertaking the program meant “[developing] a new way to communicate with [their] visitors.” For example, staff will no longer ask children to get their “mother or father” to sign a library card since there are “children with two mothers or two fathers.” Moreover, when someone inquires for a book about love, staff should not assume that the inquirer wants to read about heterosexual love.
RFSL determines the content of the “curriculum” and delivers it for approximately $15,000 per 25 employees. The certification program seeks to ensure organizations “offer a good working environment for employees and a respectful treatment of patients/clients/users from an LGBT perspective.”
RFSL states that there are five criteria which must be met for a certificate to be issued:
1. Staff members must have a level of knowledge “equivalent to an undergraduate in LGBT issues.”
2. The organization must work “actively and continuously to create an open and inclusive work environment from an LGBT perspective.”
3. The organization must “actively and continuously work to create a welcoming and respectful” environment for patients/clients/users from an LGBT perspective.
4. The organization must have “an elaborate and well-established plan for how attitude work on LGBT issues in the workplace … will proceed after the end of training and a documented plan to deal with complaints.”
5. During the certification period, the organization must conduct reviews according the agreed plan.
For Sollentuna, the HBT process took eight months and included a “review” of the environment that assessed the range of books, magazines, and movies being “revised and supplemented.” After the training, staff was directed not to assume that everyone has a traditional nuclear family, has or wants to have a heterosexual relationship, or wants to be called “he or “she.” Instead, the recommended gender neutral pronoun to be used is “hen.”
Once completing the entire process, public sector organizations receive certification that is valid for three years, which is followed by a required enhanced “re-certification” process that is good for another three years. Re-certification assumes that at least 70 percent of the employees have been trained by RFSL and “filler training” is offered to help organizations that have grown significantly after their initial training.
Certification is being increasingly implemented. At the end of 2013, the County of Stockholm launched the country’s largest certification course requiring all 43,000 county employees to take part. Similarly, the Synod of the Swedish Church also passed a motion that “the Church council shall encourage … [the implementation of] LGBT certification within Swedish church workplaces.” But this view is not shared by all; it was passed with 153 members voting in favor and 76 against.
Federal Chairman of the RFSL Ulrika Westerlund has also made clear that certification will help churches discuss homosexuality. She believes that when religious writings are used as arguments against homosexual behavior, a discussion must follow and “we may say that with this certification, we want you not to quote this passage from the bible.”
If Orwell visited Sweden today, he would most probably write, yet again, what he so eloquently did in “1984.” “To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”
By thinking otherwise, the citizens of Sweden risk not understanding the dark forces intent on obliterating their freedoms.
–Robert Clarke is litigation staff counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom in Vienna, Austria.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an international, alliance-building legal organization that advocates for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family in numerous courts and consultative bodies worldwide.