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Sweden: Right to IVF Treatment Not Dependent on Sexual Orientation

(Nov. 25, 2011) On October 13, 2011, the Stockholm District Court found that a Swedish Vårdcentral [public health provider] had discriminated against a homosexual woman who wanted to undergo a preliminary medical test in order to receive an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The woman had contacted her usual health care provider to schedule a time for a test, but was instead referred to a health care provider specializing in health care for homosexuals.

The case was brought by the Swedish Diskrimineringsombudsmand [Ombudsman for Discrimination Matters] (DO), who argued that because the woman was referred to a health care provider other than the one to which a heterosexual woman would have been referred and because she was denied access to her usual health care provider solely due to her sexuality, she had been the victim of discrimination.

The district court agreed. Moreover, the court found that the examination the woman’s usual health care provider should have provided would be exactly the same as that for a heterosexual woman; therefore, there was nothing that justified differentiated treatment. The woman thus was found to have been subjected to discriminatory treatment. Because no damage to the woman could be proven, however, the damages awarded were reduced from the SEK100,000 (about US$14,750) sought to SEK15,000 (about US$2,200). (Vårdcentral diskriminerade homosexuell kvinna, DAGENS JURIDIK (Oct. 17, 2011); the Stockholm District Court case is available at the DO website (last visited Nov. 16, 2011).)