The ILGA recently posted this ‘Rainbow Map’ to show which countries in Europe provide the best level of human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex residents. From the first glance I was surprised to learn that the UK provides the best human rights at 77% , compared to 66% for Norway, 65% for Sweden, 57% for Denmark and 60% for the Netherlands. I find this difficult to believe as the above 4 countries are well renowned for offering some of the best human rights to people across the LGBTUA+ spectrum.
Legislation doesn’t mean equality or human rights are adhered to and this is a pitfall of this graph. Results from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights survey show just how high homo-/transphobia are in the Western world, despite misconceptions.
Ps. In an article entitled “Europa lebt die Diskriminierung” (Discrimination lives in Europe) Die Zeit discusses the above mentioned studies and concludes: “Such laws are great. However, at the end of the day, the new EU study shows that it’s not enough to declare equality in the law books. These laws have to actually come alive too.” This is a statement I wholeheartedly agree with as we learn time and time again that legislation is all well and go. Yet it means nothing unless everyone takes it into practise.
The most homophobic groups are often the most homoerotic – nothing could prove this more than the National Socialist regime. In fact, Lars even mentions Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s right hand man and close friend who, despite the official party line, survived as an openly homosexual man until he became too powerful. Lars (Thure Lindhardt) was a former Danish service man until rumours of his sexuality led to his removal from the forces. Already extremist to some extent, Lars becomes involved in the local Neo Nazi group – at first he resists, claiming he isn’t a violent man. As he becomes more involved he quickly rises in the ranks and is given full membership. Jimmy, another Neo Nazi renovating the groups ‘holiday’ cottage, takes him in (albeit begrudgingly) and they bond until the sexual tension becomes too much and the pair accept their sexuality that the others violently oppose. At first, Jimmy tries to brush this off as a mistake but eventually finds himself coming back to Lars for more. Secluded in the woods, no one can find them – or so they think. As events spiral out of control the group reacts to the news the only way they know how – with violence.
While this film is emotionally charged, it, like many Scandinavian art forms, tackles the darker issues that flow in the icy undercurrent throughout Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Just like Wallander and The Bridge, these productions highlight the societal issues these countries face when it comes to migration and integration. It is, as a result, an interesting and unusual look at queer issues alongside the threat of right wing extremism. It is also a pleasure to see Thure Lindhardt performing in his native tongue – he later stars in Keep the Lights On. Much like Eytan Fox’s films and Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil, this tackles wider issues in society with a queer subtext.
This, unlike Keep the Lights On, is a film I can really recommend if you are looking for something different.
I should probably also point out that I am currently obsessed with Sweden/Scandinavia/Kanelbullar (mainly the latter) and as a result this show, unless god awful, was always going to be a hit with me just because of the moody, atmospheric stills of Malmö (or Malmø i dansk) and Copenhagen and the majestic Øresundsbron (to take the hybrid name).
Aside from me wax lyrical-ing about the two countries, I would like to praise everything this show has going for it. The camera work is beautiful, the opening credits are chilling and Copenhagen’s Choir of Young Believers ‘Hollow Talk’ fits perfectly as a musical accompaniment to these dark images. The storyline is complex and rarely predictable. It tackles a huge range of issues and my only slight issue is with the murderers true motive. Martin and, in particular, Saga are excellent characters and I am in awe of Saga Noren. She is an excellent and deep character and I love the way the show also includes the private lives of them all too. This show does not just tackle issues of criminality and society in Sweden and Denmark but it also looks at personality, relationships and learning difficulties. I must also point of that, for their sake, I really hope they have some sort of pass for crossing the bridge, because at 3,069SEK for 10 trips it isn’t cheap…
It is an intense and emotional 10 part journey and the show is set to continue in the Autumn/Winter of 2013. I personally cannot wait for Saga and Martin to return to our screens…