I’ve had a wish for some time to be invited to the Swedish parliament’s seminar series to present my research, and this year it finally happened! Following a parliamentary motion by Marlene Burwick (Social democrats) to strengthen the sexual health and well-being of disabled people, the seminar Sexual and Reproductive Rights for All was planned together with Lina Nordquist (Liberals). These seminars are often primarily aimed at gathering civil society and other relevant stakeholders, and therefore also organised together with them. This time the main actor was Magnus Lindén from Kulturparken Uppsala, a cultural organisation that has conducted projects on access to sexuality and sexual health among people with learning disabilities living in group homes. One of the projects was I have lust! (Jag har lust! in Swedish) that resulted in a website with information and a report with all the participants thoughts and experiences of barriers to accessing sexual health and well-being.
The seminar began with a performance in which Charlie Moberg and Destiny Bergvall did a dance performance while Matilda Birgegård read a Swedish translation of the WHO definition of sexuality. Thereafter Magnus presented some results from the report with focus on how to develop better practices around sexuality in disability services. Then I presented my research, and I focused on what we can learn in Sweden from other countries’ work around sexual support in policy and practice. The below picture shows me next to my power point presentation, and some people in the audience in the foreground.
The final part of the seminar consisted of a panel discussion, chaired by Lina, with representatives from Disability Rights Sweden (Funktionsrätt Sverige), an umbrella for disability and patients’ rights organisations, RFSU, the Swedish Association for Sex Education, and Marlene. This was actually the first time that I saw these organisations together ‘in the open’, pledging to do more work around these issues. I have high hopes!
I think the seminar was a success, not least because there were so many attendees, including from disability organisations, agencies responsible for disability rights (Myndigheten för delaktighet) as well as disability services (Socialstyrelsen), and even a few members of parliament.
I look forward to working on continued efforts to strengthen Swedish disabled people’s sexual rights!