Is love in Sweden colour blind?

Love may be blind, but it’s not necessarily colour blind. But the reason is not always racist, said Sayaka Osanami Törngren whose thesis looks at ethnic Swedes and how they feel about mixed marriage, speaking with News Agency TT.

“It’s easy to say that skin colour and ethnic origin don’t matter when you already love someone, but if you ask ethnic Swedes, there seems to be something at first sight that indicates these issues do matter,” she said.

Next month Osanami Törngren, a student at Linköping University, will defend her dissertation, “Love ain’t got no color?”, a look at Swedes’ attitudes towards mixed marriages. After asking 460 ethnic Swedes and interviewing 30 of them, the answer to the question is an unequivocal “Yes”. Origin does matter.

Her research shows that attitudes among ethnic Swedes about mixed marriage – that is, whether someone would consider a partner from a different ethnic origin – varies greatly. But a significant factor is which background the partner has. For example, more Swedes can imagine a relationship with someone from Latin America (73 percent), than someone from Asia (64 percent) or someone from the Middle East (55 percent). The reason is not always racist, but it is prejudiced, she said.

“Women are generally more negative than men because they’re afraid of a relationship that would be unequal,” said Osanami Törngren.

Osanami Törngren added that even attitudes towards those who have been adopted and raised in Sweden by Swedish parents were more negative than towards other ethnic Swedes or Europeans. “It really goes to show that love is not colour blind,” she said.

Feelings towards mixed marriage are also influenced by whether one had an ethnically heterogeneous mix of friends. “The more friends with ethnically diverse backgrounds a person had, the more positive they were,” Osanami Törngren told TT: