A music festival in Sweden has been found guilty of discrimination after it banned men from attending, billing itself as the world’s ‘first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender’ people.
Statement festival, which was held in Gothenburg, was organised by Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare in response to rape and sexual assault claims at festivals.
She suggested the idea of the festival after news emerged that claimed there had been four rapes and 23 sexual assaults at Bravalla, Sweden’s biggest music festival, in June 2017. The year before there had also been five rapes and 12 sexual assaults reported.
The idea received a total of 3,000 pledges equating to £48,060 ($60,780) to make the festival go forward.
However, the festival – which this year featured acts including the Killers, Linkin Park and Travis Scott – has now been cancelled for 2019, after the country’s discrimination ombudsman said it was illegal.
The Killers performing at another festival in Newport. Credit: PA
Spokesman Clas Lundstedt said: “It is important to point out what an infringement is. These are the statements made before the festival, what they wrote on their website.
“Still, we haven’t been able to prove that someone would have been discriminated against in connection with the implementation or that someone would have been rejected.”
Lundstedt added: “Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this. However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website do.”
According to the Metro, men were allowed to buy tickets to the festival, but many of them – including technicians, managers and artists’ entourages – were restricted to a ‘man pen’, which was in a backstage area.
The festival’s organisers responded to the backlash on Facebook, saying they were to busy ‘changing the world’ to issue an official comment.
The post read: “Hi, Ombudsman! We are aware of your decision and we think it’s sad that 5,000 women, non-binary [someone who identifies as neither male nor female] and transgender witnessed at a life-changing festival experience, a few cis men [someone whose gender identity matches their anatomical birth gender] get caught up.
“The success of the Statement Festival shows that we needed it and the decision did not change that fact.
“Otherwise, we have no comments – we are busy changing the world.”