Officials in the migrant-majority municipality Södertälje have been forced to remove gay pride flags from their flagpoles each evening in a new tactic following years of thefts and vandalism.
The local government made the move after vandals had repeatedly stolen the flags, torn them up, and even set them on fire in previous years, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
“After all, we had enough before and felt the need to find a solution that allows the flag to fly for as long as possible,” said Magnus Aminoff, a member of the municipality’s property management department.
When asked what kind of message taking the flags down each day sends to the broader public, Aminoff said, “It is about finding a practical solution to a problem which allows the flags to fly for as long as possible. We will not be naive.”
He added that the municipality had prepared in advance by buying spare flags.
Aminoff also admitted that the solution was not practical in the long term and said that the municipality was looking into flag poles that are constructed in a way to prevent the flags from being taken down but noted cost issues.
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Södertälje is one of Sweden’s growing number of migrant-majority municipalities and saw the largest increase of foreign-background residents in all of Sweden in 2016.
The area has also seen homophobic incidents in the recent past with a homosexual Syrian man claiming to have been severely beaten by other Syrian migrants.
Gabriel Chabo, 31, claimed that a group of his fellow countrymen had said, “if you are going to stay in Södertälje, you pay money because you are gay” before they brutally beat him and slammed his head into a car door.