Swedish Armed Forces celebrates Pride with rainbow camo: ‘We stand up for the values we are tasked with defending’

The Swedish Armed Forces has laid on a series of events for the country’s EuroPride celebrations.

The Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) shared a message of solidarity on social media this week as the country hosts the EuroPride celebration in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The official social media accounts of the Armed Forces, which has long celebrated LGBT-inclusivity, shared a picture of two soldiers in rainbow camo under the slogan: “We don’t always march straight.”

The caption said: “No matter when or where we march, we always stand up for your right to live the way you want with whoever you want.”

(Swedish Armed Forces)

The Armed Forces planned a number of events for the Pride celebrations ahead of the march in Gothenburg, including a performance from the Swedish military band and a display by parachutists carrying rainbow flags.

In its announcement of the event series, the Armed Forces wrote: “We stand up for the values we are tasked with defending.

“The Swedish Armed Forces is an inclusive workplace where we view people’s diversity as a strength.

“We have been proud Pride participants since the turn of the millennium because it is important that we take a stand and show that we will stand up for the equal worth of all people – whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

The release added: “We practice for what we know is necessary today, plan for what we know will be required tomorrow, and adapt to the developments we cannot predict.

“We defend Sweden, the country’s interests, our freedoms, and the right to live as we choose.

“Here and now, we are identifying and stopping infringements of these rights on land, in the air, at sea, and online. Because our job is to defend all of the freedoms and rights we enjoy – in the open Sweden we have come to expect.”

A Pride advert from the Swedish Armed Forces

A Pride advert from the Swedish Armed Forces

Naturally, not everyone was happy about the announcement.

One Facebook commenter wrote: “Stop mixing politics and religion in the armed forces. I want you to devote yourself to the mission instead of political indoctrination.”

The Armed Forces clapped back: “The Armed Forces have chosen to participate in Pride to demonstrate that we stand up for our values and protect all people’s equal values and rights.

“To clearly show that we are an inclusive organisation, where everyone is treated with mutual respect.”

Swedish air defence practice (ANDERS WIKLUND/AFP/Getty)

There was plenty of praise for their work too.

Another commenter wrote: “I’m damn proud to be part of the armed forces.

“Their task is to defend Sweden’s laws, ordinances, human rights, the boundaries of the nation, help in disasters, assist in international efforts.

“It is wonderful that the Armed Forces can show new arrivals that the Swedish military is NOT an instrument for brutal violence, as they may think from elsewhere.

“They are an employer who obviously should be on their employees and ensure that they have a healthy working environment where they can feel safe.”

Another commenter added: “We are so lucky in this country. Do people not realise how momentous it is that the armed forces – in most other [places] a hugely conservative organisation – can demonstrate this solidarity with all its citizens? This is not political! It’s equal rights.”