Music festivals are not typically made with women in mind. Lineups rarely include more than one or two women headliners, and sexual assault and harassment continues to be a huge problem for women and non-gender conforming people in attendance.
The inaugural Statement Festival in Sweden attempted to change that morose reality this past summer by creating “the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary, and transgender [people] only.” Now, according to the Guardian, the festival has been found guilty of breaching Sweden’s gender discrimination laws.
The festival was “launched as a response to the countless abuse of women [that] had taken place at music festivals,” according to its organizers. But Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman ruled the event broke the law by “discouraging a certain group from attending the event.”
“These [infringements relate to] statements made before the festival, that they wrote on their website,” the D.O. press officer Class Lundstedt told the Guardian. “Still, we haven’t been able to prove that someone would have been discriminated against in connection with the implementation or that someone would have been rejected.”
“Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this.... However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website [did],” Lundstedt added.
No penalties will be imposed, because the D.O. found that nobody suffered damage from the festival’s restrictions. Still it’s frustrating that something as innocuous as creating space for women and non-binary people can be considered illegal.
“It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely,” the organizers wrote on Facebook in response to the verdict. “The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”