This campaign tells the stories of LGBTQ+ refugees—and the injustices they've had to endure

Swedish campaign from West Pride and AKQA introduce 'Ambassadors of Pride' to give asylum-seekers legal counsel

Published On
Jun 08, 2022

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Nearly 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adults, with at least nine including laws to police gender expression that target transgender and gender non-conforming people. But seeking asylum from oppressive, often life-threatening, legislation can sometimes be unjust as well.

A new campaign from West Pride, the non-profit that organizes Pride festivities in Gothenburg, Sweden, addresses the unfair process the country requires from LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers. According to the organization, these individuals must provide Swedish immigration officials with often unattainable evidence of their identity and that their fear of persecution is well-founded and identity-based.

“Ambassadors of Pride,” created with agency AKQA, features a series of life stories from LGBTQ+ refugees and their experience making it through Sweden’s difficult asylum process. The six essays are accompanied by video portraits all shot in silhouette against notably muted rainbow-colored backdrops with their faces disguised by the equality symbol.

The stories are horrific, combining the fears of every queer person’s journey to self discovery with the terrors they might face from their family, community or governments should they come out. Serena, the alias given to one participant, writes about a schoolmate being stoned by the Islamic militia for “dressing unordinary” and another girl who was shot to death for being gay.

“Soon, people started questioning why I wasn’t interested in boys,” she writes. “I knew that if anybody finds out who I am, they will kill me right away. And nothing would happen to them if they did.”

West Pride OOH

Another Ambassador of Pride writes about fleeing Iran after his business partner used an incriminating video to blackmail him, causing a group of men to break into his apartment. Farhad had to jump from his fifth floor window to escape with his life.

“I have never talked about my feelings with anyone,” he writes. “But to stay safely in Sweden, that’s what I have to do. I have to explain to a stranger at the Migration Agency something I’ve barely been able to admit to myself. When you’ve lived with something that is considered a taboo all your life, it’s difficult to find the words for what you have been through, who you are, and how you identify.”

In addition to raising awareness through the stories, West Pride will strengthen the credentials of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in Sweden by naming them Ambassadors of Pride and Honorary Members of West Pride. The non-profit is also offering them free legal counsel for refugee cases and heading a petition to be sent to Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Anders Ygeman, on World Refugee Day, June 20.

“Letting an arbitrary process decide if LGBTQ refugees are approved asylum or not is inhumane,” said Emma Gunterberg Sachs, general manager of West Pride, in a statement. “Far too many are wrongly sent back to a lifetime of persecution, imprisonment or death. We need to stop this now.”

The campaign is supported by digital and social content as well as OOH ads that will run throughout Sweden.


Jun 08, 2022
Client :
West Pride
Agency :
Production Company :

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