We are celebrating the International Pride Month and the Helsinki Pride Week in Finland. Internationally the entire month is dedicated to uplift the voices of the sexual and gender minority (LGBTQI+) communities, who are often marginalized in our societies.
This is a good time for organizations to show concrete actions in supporting sexual and gender minorities. We aim to be pioneers in equality, as per our values. In this blog article, we share three examples of how our organization supports LGBTQI+ communities – not only during Pride, but also throughout our research and activities.
1. Intersectional research brings minorities visible
Our School Health Promotion Survey 2019 showed that three percent of youth identify as belonging to a gender minority, and nine percent to a sexual minority. In addition, approximately eight percent of youth who identify themselves as belonging to gender or sexual minorities also identify as being of foreign background.
Rainbow youth were more often dissatisfied with their lives and were lonelier than their peers. Belonging to multiple minorities is known to increase the risk of discrimination. However, research on the experiences of sexual and gender minorities who also belong to other minority groups has been limited.
To address this knowledge gap, THL’s Manifold More project is currently studying gender and sexual minorities among foreign origin populations in Finland. The study applies an intersectional approach. The approach allows us to show how intersecting aspects of individuals’ identities are penetrated by social and power relations in the lived experiences of the individuals concerned.
2. Safer spaces for all
When talking about Pride, we also need to talk about prejudice, racism, xenophobia, ableism and classism. These forms of discrimination are very much present in our society, and we must not ignore them whether they are straight in our faces or sneak themselves into the conversations. Misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia —to name a few— often intertwine with other forms of oppressions.
We need to strive for inclusion and offer chances for participation in private and public spaces, providing accessibility for all. We must work on developing stronger collaborations and provide spaces for all who belong to different minorities.
Safer space guidelines have already been used in our seminars, such as the Gender Equality Days. We are further developing the use of safer space guidelines to ensure that everyone feels as good and welcome as possible in our activities without fearing for example inappropriate treatment or harassment.
3. Using gender equality and non-discrimination planning
According to both the Equality and the Non-Discrimination Act of Finland, public authorities, employers, and education providers must promote gender equality and non-discrimination both in their operations and in their personnel policy. Gender equality and non-discrimination planning includes setting up both objectives, concrete measures, and processes of monitoring and evaluating those.
The Director of Administration and Finance and the Head of the Gender Equality and Non-discrimination group Mia Nykopp stated whilst raising the rainbow flag that THL’s gender equality and non-discrimination plans are essential for us. They are concrete tools for implementing our strategic goals and values of our organization.
We are also developing tools for more gender-aware and equal communication and starting to use gender neutral job titles. Words have power, and therefore inclusive language matters.
On the first day of Helsinki Pride Week, on the 28th of June, we will raise the rainbow flag. Supporting Pride also means fighting against prejudice. Recent events all over the world, as well as the COVID-pandemic, have crystallized that injustice is everyone’s struggle.
Helsinki Pride community is celebrating its 30 years work during Helsinki Pride Week from 28 June to 4 July 2021. The Manifold More project is taking part at the panel discussion “How are we? Mental health care needs, disparities, and well-being of non-Finnish speaking LGBTIAQ+ people in Finland” organized by SETA’s international affairs unit on 1 July and will hold a presentation organized by the non-governmental organization, Transfeminines with the title “Experiences of trans refugees and asylum seekers in Finland”.
Tasa-arvosanasto (THL) (in Finnish)
Intersektionaalisuus ja sukupuoli (THL) (in Finnish)
Sukupuolen moninaisuus (THL) (in Finnish)
Sukupuolitietoinen viestintä (THL) (in Finnish)
Jokela, Satu; Luopa, Pauliina; Hyvärinen, Anni; Ruuska, Tupu; Martelin, Tuija; Klemetti, Reija (2020). Sukupuoli- ja seksuaalivähemmistöihin kuuluvien nuorten hyvinvointi: Kouluterveyskyselyn tuloksia 2019. (in Finnish)