Members of the Finnish Centre Youth, the youth faction of the Centre Party, participated in the Pride parade in Helsinki on 2 July 2022. Helsinki Pride has confirmed that it will not provide visibility to either the Centre or the National Coalition at this year’s event. (Timo Jaakonaho – Lehtikuva)


HELSINKI PRIDE COMMUNITY has confirmed and shed light on the reasoning for its decision to not co-operate with the Centre and National Coalition in 2023.

Senni Moilanen, the board chairperson at Helsinki Pride, told Helsingin Sanomat on Friday that the controversial decision stemmed from a general discussion on the eligibility criteria imposed on commercial and non-commercial partners of the annual event celebrating gender and sexual minorities.

Such discussions, she added, have been had on an annual basis already for decades.

The board met twice to weigh up its decision on the two political parties, with already the first meeting provoking serious discussion on whether the community should restrict partnerships with all political parties, a question that is the subject of regular feedback. The conclusion drawn at the meeting was that the issue is difficult.

“We decided to take a moment to mull over and allocate a bit of time for information gathering,” recounted Moilanen.

In the second meeting, the board established a set of criteria for partnerships. “This year we examined our partnerships through the lens of what kind of human rights policy has each party pursued in the past year from the viewpoint of the rainbow community. The trans act emerged as a central consideration,” she told.

The Centre and National Coalition were ultimately ruled unsuitable partners on grounds that some of their members had voted against the government bill to reform the trans act, after each party had defined the vote as an issue of conscience.

“It was a disappointment to us that you can approach human rights as an issue of conscience,” Annu Kemppainen, the executive director of Helsinki Pride, stated to Helsingin Sanomat.

The board also reviewed how lawmakers from different parties have commented on the topic in public, finding that some have done so in a transphobic if not outright violent manner, according to Moilanen. This, she added, has contributed to creating a climate that is unsafe and harmful for gender and sexual minorities.

“Our duty is primarily to ensure the safety of our members.”

Kemppainen added that Helsinki Pride is disappointed that some parties have refrained from rejecting the transphobic remarks of their members. Because the organisation exists fundamentally to promote the interests of the rainbow community, it opted against providing visibility to such lawmakers this year.

She added that the decision was not made against any individual lawmakers, but rather at the organisational level.

“Helsinki Pride’s partnerships have nothing to do with party politics. We’re an unaffiliated human rights organisation – and that’ll be the case also in the future,” emphasised Kemppainen.

Moilanen on Friday also expressed her regret that the decision was subject to some misinterpretations, underscoring that the decision applies exclusively to the parties’ presence at this year’s event.

Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, viewed earlier last week that the decision was unusual.

“I’m very sad about the decision. I think it’s a political decision, rather than a factual one,” he commented at the House of the Estates on Tuesday, 23 May. “This offends many people in our party, and I think it’s unusual.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT