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Gay teens win right to dance at high graduations in Sweden

December 1, 2003

STOCKHOLM — Gay seniors at two Swedish high schools will be allowed to dance together at their graduation ball next summer, a local newspaper reported Friday.

Friday morning the prom organizers decided not to let homosexuals shake loose on the dance floor, claiming it would be an afront to an age-old tradition, the online edition of Swedish paper Oestgoeta Correspondentens said.

But a storm of criticism forced organizers to backtrack by the afternoon.

The big event, organized by the Berzelius high school and the the Folkuniversitetets international high school in Linkoeping, will take place on June 5.

One of the organizers' harshest critics Friday morning was Hans Ytterberg, the ombudsman against discrimination linked to sexual orientation.

He told the paper that the organizers' original decision constituted illegal discrimination, which in Sweden is punishable by fines or up to a year in prison.

Explaining their about-face, the organizers claimed that they had misunderstood recommendations from the dance teachers preparing the students for the ball.

"It appears that several people misunderstood the dance teachers' recommendations," Malin Wiggur, who is in charge of Folkuniversitetets' part of the ball, told Oestgoeta Correspondentens. –Sapa-AFP

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