‘A Flag Worth Defending’: Swedish Armed Forces Raise Eyebrows With Heavy Pride Advertising

As the Swedish Armed Forces press secretary put it, the military has been traditionally associated with “macho culture” and seeks to distance itself.

The Swedish Armed Forces have invested heavily in celebrating the Pride Festival. On 1 August, the Swedish military bought the entire front page of Svenska Dagbladet, one of the country’s leading dailies, which bills itself “independently moderate”.

The full-page advertisement shows four soldiers, one of whom is holding a rainbow flag. The motto above the picture reads: “A flag worth defending”. Below it is the caption: “We defend human rights, the equal value of all and our right to live as we choose.”

The Armed Forces will, as in previous years, also take part in Pride. This year, the campaign takes place digitally, just like last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, and extra staff has been called in to moderate comments and questions on social media during Pride Week.

The PR-stunt has stirred polarising reactions ranging from support and admiration to criticism and disgust.

Former chairman of the liberal-conservative Moderate Party Youth League Benjamin Dousa hailed the front page and its message.

“Totally agree. Good of the Armed Forces,” he tweeted.

​“A flag worth defending. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Whoever gets upset about this, well then you’re just a f***ing idiot”, regional Centre Party youth leader Bilan Jonsson tweeted.

​“Why are people so emotional about this ad? Surely…

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