About norms, sexual orientation and LGBTQ+

Here you can read about what the norms are regarding gender and sexual orientation. You can also read about what it can be like as an LGBTQ+ person to live in families with honour-based norms and what rights LGBTQ+ people have.

What is considered a norm?

Norms can be described as unwritten rules and expectations of how we should be as individuals, do things and behave towards each other. What is considered "normal". Norms change all the time and are different at different times and in different places. Norms are thus invented and do not describe how things actually are or have to be. There are many norms that are good and that make things easier for us when we are together with others. It could be, for example, arriving on time and being nice to each other. But there are also norms that harm us.

Norms about gender and sexual orientation

One norm suggests that there are only two genders – girls and boys. You are also expected to identify with the gender that everyone else thinks you are. Norms also describe how you should behave and what you should look like as a girl or a boy. When it comes to sexual orientation, there is a norm that everyone is heterosexual. In other words, girls should only be romantically and/or sexually attracted to boys, and vice versa. These norms can make us think that there are no other ways of being or feeling when it comes to gender and sexual orientation, but there are so many different ways! You can read about some of them in our glossary. We also have tips on some websites where you can find even more information.

How you feel about gender and sexual orientation can change throughout your life. Only you can know how you're thinking and feeling right now. No one else can decide for you. People can't tell from your appearance which gender you feel like or who you like. Nor is there anything you need to do or prove to others about your gender and sexual orientation for it to be true. But it's not always particularly easy to know and describe how you feel about your gender and sexual orientation. It's something that can take time to learn about yourself, and that's absolutely fine. You don't have to know.

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Being LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. The plus refers to other people who in various ways do not feel like or are not what others expect when it comes to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Gender identity is about the gender that you identify with. Gender expression is about clothes and other things relating to gender and appearance. Sexual orientation is about the gender for which you feel a romantic and/or sexual attraction. There is a list of other websites where you can find support or more information, and a glossary explaining what certain words in these texts mean.

Honour-based norms

Honour-based norms are unwritten rules and expectations of how you should lead your life for the sake of your family and relatives. If you don't do what is expected of you, others can believe that you are bringing shame on your family and relatives. In families with honour-based norms, speaking about or being an LGBTQ+ person are taboo subjects. Something that people believe is absolutely forbidden. If LGBTQ+ people are mentioned, it is often in a negative context, for example that it is a disease or a sin. This can make it easy for you to believe that this is true, even though it's not the case at all. If you are or feel that maybe you are an LGBTQ+ person, this may make you start to feel unwell. It can also feel difficult to talk to or get support from someone at home.

LGBTQ + people have the right to their identity and sexuality

If you are or if your family thinks you are an LGBTQ+ person, your family might control what you do, how you dress and who you meet. They may also try to change the way you feel about your gender and sexual orientation. But it's not possible to change someone's gender or sexual orientation, and there's not something wrong with you that has to be changed! Like everyone else, LGBTQ+ people have the right to their sexuality and identity.

There is no sexual orientation that is punishable and you have the right to love whoever you want. You may also marry someone of the same gender or a different gender than you. It is also forbidden to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people at school, for example. Discrimination means being treated unfairly. Nor may LGBTQ+ people be subjected to hate crime. A hate crime means that someone abuses, threatens, harasses or is violent towards someone because of what they are or the way they are. It could be because of your sexual orientation or because you are a transgender person.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is incorporated into Swedish law, applies to everyone under the age of 18. It states that no one may be discriminated against. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is about everyone's right to a private life, to leisure time, to security and to create their own life and future. This also applies to young LGBTQ+ people. If your rights are violated, help is available. Read more about the Convention on the Rights of the Child here (page in Swedish).

If you are LGBTQ person and new in Sweden

The brochure "LGBTQ people's rights in Sweden" contains more information for anyone who is a young LGBTQ+ person and a new arrival in Sweden. It states, among other things, that you have the right to apply for asylum in Sweden if you are being persecuted in your home country because you are an LGBTQ+ person. It also explains how you can get help from the healthcare service if you are a transgender patient and want to change your body to better suit what you feel is your gender. The brochure is available in Arabic, Dari, English, Kurmanji, Persian, Somali and Swedish. You can find it here.

You have the right to be and feel as you do

For some people, being LGBTQ+ can feel tough, for others not. It can be tough not to be and feel what everyone else expects. Maybe you're anxious about what your family or friends will think about your gender or sexual orientation. It can also be tough not to see others who are like you at school, at the recreation centre, at the sports club, at home, in the synagogue/church/mosque, in films/books/games or elsewhere. All of this can make you feel lonely or that you are wrong. It is important to remember that there are many different ways you can feel when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. Nothing is more or less right.

You have the right to feel good and support is available

Some people think it's a disease or a sin to be LGBTQ+, but it most definitely is not a disease or a sin! It is the others and society around you who are the problem, if they make you think you are wrong or feel guilt or shame because of who you are and how you feel when it comes to your gender and sexual orientation.

Love and sexuality should feel pleasurable and wonderful! And being a transgender person can feel amazing and just right, feeling that you can be who you really are. The law states that you have the right to be and feel the way you do. But if you or someone you know is being treated badly, support is available. You can, for example, get in touch with us via our chat function (also availablein English) or with another organisation that we recommend here (the page is in Swedish). If you are or feel that you are an LGBTQ+ person, the most important thing we want you to know is that you are amazing just as you are – there is nothing wrong with you! You have the right to feel good and to live a life without honour-based norms that harm you. There is support available if you want to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings, or about how things are for you at home. Maybe there's someone at school you feel you can turn to. You can also contact us via our chat function. We're here for you.

As an LGBTQ+ person, you may feel worried that others will treat you badly. We hope that you will feel comfortable in getting in touch with us. Otherwise, there are other organisations for LGBTQ+ people that you can contact. You can find some of them here.