Two Swedish filmmakers have gone viral in their home country with a video that threatens to dent the country’s image as a haven of tolerance towards LGBTI people.
Actors Konrad Ydhage and Olle Öberg runs a YouTube channel called STHLM Panda and film themselves engaging in pranks and self-described ‘social experiments.’
‘We received a message by one of our followers,’ Konrad told Gay Star News.
‘He told us the he got fired from his job in a warehouse when his boss found he was gay.
‘He also told us that they were hiring. We applied for the job. Both got called to interview. We brought hidden cameras with us to find out if this was true.’
The video is below. To watch with English subtitles, press the box ‘subtitles’ next to the settings gearwheel.
Olle entered the interview appearing to be the perfect candidate, saying he had three years of previous warehouse experience and displaying plenty of eagerness for the role.
Konrad, on the other hand, purposefully said he had no experience and shows little enthusiasm. Asked if he has a license to drive trucks, Olle says yes while Konrad says no.
Olle’s interview appears to be going well. Until, that is, he mentions that he has a boyfriend. At this stage, the interviewer – whose identity has been protected – changes his tone. He cuts short the interview, tells Olle that ‘a lot of people have applied for this job’, and even avoids shaking hands with him as he gets up to leave.
Later, Konrad was called and told that he was being offered the job. The interviewer told him, ‘2-3 people applied. You were the best.’ Olle, on the other hand, is informed that he has not been successful.
‘We knew he would be slightly homophobic but we didn’t expect the conversation to take the sharp turn it took,’ Konrad told Gay Star News. ‘Nor did we foresee that he would not shake his hand. To be honest you don’t expect people to be like this 2015.’
‘LGBT is pretty accepted in the open in Sweden. But I believe there’s still much to do about prejudices.’
Swedish paper The Local showed the video clip to Clas Lundstedt, press spokesman for the Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman. He said that he was unable to comment on any specific case that had not been investigated by the Ombudsman, but confirmed, in his view, that it appeared to be ‘a case of discrimination.’
He said that proving cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation could be very difficult but recommended that anyone in a similar situation try to save as much detail as possible to support their case.
‘That could be saving email conversations, speaking to potential witnesses and also try to record as much about the circumstances as you can remember, so that it will emerge in a potential investigation. A video or audio recording can be used as evidence in some cases.’
Konrad said that he and Olle were pleased to have prompted a conversation around LGBT workplace discrimination, and at how the video had been widely viewed – clocking up almost 200,000 views in less than two days.
After posting the video online, Konrad said that Olle today received an email from the boss who featured in the film, in which he expressed remorse, and said that he knew who had tipped them off about his homophobic behavior.
‘I’m starting to realize that that my way of seeing things is very oppressive and degrading. Even if I don’t deliberately reject gay people I’ve seen them negatively,’ he said in the email, translated from Swedish, provided to us by STHLM Panda (included below).
The boss went on to say that the former employee has received an apology and been offered his job back.
‘I deeply regret how I acted, I’m willing to change.
‘I’m very remorseful as I said, but I hope this will lead to me becoming a better manager.’
STLHM Panda were unable to tell us if the former employee had confirmed receiving an apology or a new job offer. Konrad said they had chosen not to reveal the identity of the boss concerned because, ‘We would not gain anything from destroying his life, nor exposing the company. It could also lead to him getting beat up.’
‘He emailed us today, he was really remorseful for his behavior. We believe everybody deserves a second chance.’
Sweden is regarded as one of the most accepting and liberal countries within Europe with regard to LGBT rights. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation, with discrimination described as ‘unjust or offensive treatment that is related to homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality,’ according to LGBT rights organization RSFL. Discrimination according to gender identity is also illegal.
Ulrika Wreterlund, chairperson of RFSL, told GSN that Swedes who believe they may have experienced discrimination, ‘should contact their union and/or the Swedish discrimination ombudsman.’