Why do we still need Pride?

June is known as Pride Month, during which Pride parades and events are held across Finland in honor of equality and equal rights. In the current global situation, celebrating human rights work feels more important to me than it has in a long time, and I want to explain why we need to hold on to Pride more tightly than ever.

Democracy and the realization of human rights often go hand in hand, but in recent years, the relationship between the two has been strained. According to a report published in 2023 by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), democracy has weakened worldwide in the 2020s, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression. While these issues are still relatively well managed in Finland on a global scale, we must also consider the future of democracy and human rights here.

According to a survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, only 35 percent of couples belonging to sexual and gender minorities in Finland dare to hold their partner’s hand in public. The message from these results is clear: the LGBTQ+ community still fears for their own and their loved ones’ safety due to various forms of harassment and discrimination. Even though the survey indicates that Finland’s situation is among the best in Europe, this does not exempt Finnish society from celebrating these results without concern.

In my view, Finland is currently at a crossroads where we must decide whether we continue to be global leaders in democracy and human rights or regress. Yle reported at the end of May that Pride Month will not be reflected in the communications of the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Transport and Communications. This way of development is concerning, especially in the Ministry of Justice, whose remit includes promoting equality as part of fundamental rights work. If we can stop communicating about human rights now, where are we heading next?

While researching the background for this text, I felt somewhat disheartened—Finland, known as a strong democratic society, seems to be regressing in its progress. Pride Month events are organized by numerous associations and communities, but my question is: do these events and initiatives receive enough support from the higher levels of government, or are there even efforts to suppress them?

On the other hand, I found hope in the same IDEA report, which states that people’s participation in civil society through protests, voting, and association activities promotes the development of democracy. The report notes that “such public participation, even in dangerous or unstable conditions, is a source of hope for the future of democracy.” As board member Helena Ukkola wrote in last year’s TREY Pride blog, we students have long been at the forefront of advancing social movements. I encourage all students to continue their societal activism, and one way to promote this is by participating in Pride Month’s programs and events.

Therefore, I wish you all a happy Pride Month and encourage you to participate in Pride in a way that feels natural to you, whether it’s by joining marches, attending other events, or posting about these issues on social media. Enjoy the summer and take care! <3

– Ingá



The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistanc IDEA: The Global State of Democracy 2023 – The New Checks and Balances -report

Europan Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: LGBTIQ at a crossroads: progress and challenges -survey

Yle: Leena Meri ja Lulu Ranne katkaisivat ministeriöidensä yhteydet Prideen – ei saa näkyä edes sometileillä. Published on 30.5.