Stockholm bans ‘sexist and racist’ advertising

Under the new rules, ads on public billboards in the Swedish capital can be removed within 24 hours

(Image credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Stockholm’s city council has voted to ban adverts deemed sexist or racist from public billboards in the Swedish capital.

Under the new law, due to come into effect within a month, authorities can remove any material which presents women or men as sex objects or shows a stereotypical image of gender roles.

Green Party deputy mayor and architect of the legislation, Daniel Hellden, said he hoped city authorities would not need to enforce the law.

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“Maybe the companies won’t put up ads which are sexist or objectifying if they know we’re going to remove them after 24 hours," he said. "So, if it’s working well, we won’t have to use this legislation.”

But the law has come under fire from the Association of Swedish Advertisers, which fears a ban will increase red tape and curb freedom of expression, the BBC reports.

Its chief executive, Anders Ericson, argues that despite complaints from what he describes as “a really strong group of feminists”, Sweden is already doing “a really terrific job” in self-regulation.

Sweden is regularly ranked near the top of global gender equality indexes, but a 2016 study by the non-partisan Swedish Women's Lobby labelled it the “worst Nordic country” at tackling sexism in advertising, The Local reports.

The legislation follows similar crackdowns in other European cities, including Paris and Geneva. In 2016, adverts promoting negative body images were banned across the transport network in London.

The latest move was welcomed by feminist campaigners in the UK, including Lucy-Anne Holmes, founder of the No More Page 3 campaign.

“It’s brilliant,” she told Broadly. “Images are powerful and sexist ads are damaging and also very dull.”

“This feels like a step in the right direction, although it is shame that legislation is needed,” Holmes added. “You would hope we would be beyond sexist ads by now.”

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