A colorful lighthouse continues to shine

When the association Regnbågsfyren (en. Rainbow Lighthouse) was established on Åland in 2004, it was hard to imagine that ten years later 1,500 people would parade through the streets of Mariehamn in support of the local hbtq community. Though Åland Pride and the Pride parade are the most visible achievements of the association, much of the most important work is done in everyday situations throughout the community.

– Many people associate the hbtq movement with glitter and parties, and that’s ok. But we continue to work for the more serious issues that underlie the movement, says the head of the association, Martha Hannus.

– There are for example still persons in our country who are subjected to forced sterilisation, and they are transsexuals. The suicide rate within this group is high, and for many people, sex reassignment surgery is crucial. And since the legislation demands that persons who undergo this surgery are sterile, it becomes in practice a case of forced sterilisation. This is something that many people are unaware of.

The Regnbågsfyren association is now in a phase of internal reorganisation, where we are striving to create a stable structure to support our growth and development. We continue to focus on providing information, social activities and societal impact. Åland Pride is finding its finding a sustainable form and size after the first years. During 2018, we will focus on reaching out to young people.

– I believe that the association is most important for young persons. We know that many rainbow youths choose to migrate away from Åland as soon as they have the chance, and this is something that we’d like to change. Being a hbtq person in a small community can be difficult, but there is also an upside. Here, we meet each other all the time, and we have a culture where people are not excluded. Maybe Åland can one day even become a place that hbtq people choose to migrate to.

14 December 2016

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