In news that really shouldn’t surprise anyone, a festival that literally excludes half of the population has been found guilty of discrimination.

That’s right, Statement Festival in Sweden, billed as the world’s “first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender” people as been found guilty of discrimination by Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman (DO).

They ruled that describing an event as “male-free” violates anti-discrimination laws, even though the festival had not in practice enforced the ban on cisgender men (those who identify with the male gender assigned at birth).

(Some men were allowed to buy tickets to the event but many – including technicians, managers and artists’ entourages – were restricted to a ‘man pen’ in a backstage area.)

“No differentiation based on sex was made between visitors at entry,” the ruling said. However, it added that “public statements which clearly discourage” a certain group from attending an event amounts to discrimination, and therefore the festival was in breach of the law prohibiting gender-based discrimination.

Spokesman Clas Lundstedt said:

“It is important to point out what an infringement is. These are the statements made before the festival, what they wrote on their website.

“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.”

The festival’s organisers hit back, writing on Facebook:

‘Hi, Ombudsman!

‘We are aware of your decision and we think it’s sad that 5,000 women, non-binary [someone who identifies as neither male nor female] and transgender witnessed at a life-changing festival experience, a few cis men [someone whose gender identity matches their anatomical birth gender] get caught up.

‘The success of the Statement Festival shows that we needed it and the decision did not change that fact.

‘Otherwise, we have no comments – we are busy changing the world.’

https://www.facebook.com/statementfestival/photos/a.1909058392666412/2147276748844574/?type=3&theater

Statement Festival was launched by comedian Emma Knyckare in response to reported sexual offences at other music festivals.

It received 3,000 pledges totalling £48,060 to make the festival happen.

Knyckare suggested the idea after it emerged there were allegedly four rapes and 23 sexual assaults that took place at Sweden’s biggest music festival Bravalla in June 2017, which was cancelled altogether.

After questions were first raised about the festival’s definition as ‘man-free’, organizers confirmed they would also welcome trans men and non-binary people.

“It felt important when so many people wanted it,” Knyckare told The Local during the early stages of planning.

“All men are not rapists, but almost all rapes are carried out by men. We want to create a free space, a cool festival where women can be without feeling worried. A festival is not the solution, but a reaction to the problem. The goal with the festival is that there shouldn’t need to be separatist events.”

I understand the reasoning by putting on an event like this, because it is absolutely unacceptable that someone should be sexual assaulted anywhere, let alone at a festival.

I guess it was bound to ruffle a few feathers – perhaps they just went about it the wrong way.

We’re not all c*nts – just a small number of us.

Images via Getty/Statement Festival/Facebook