Anja Pärson: I’m gay and I’m going to be a mum

Swedish skiing legend Anja Pärson confirmed to radio listeners on Saturday that she has a girlfriend and that the couple are expecting a baby.

Anja Pärson: I'm gay and I'm going to be a mum

Pärson thereby ended years of rumours about her sexuality and became the latest Swedish sports star to go public.

“I am tired of being someone else and of playing a game. I owe it to myself and especially to Filippa to tell the truth,” Pärson said while hosting a programme on Sveriges Radio.

The 31-year-old Olympic champion, who ended her career and retired following the World Cup earlier this year in Schladming, Austria, has for years faced rumours about her personal life.

“The time of rumours is now over,” she said during the pre-recorded nearly 90-minute programme.

Pärson told listeners she had never thought she would fall in love with a woman, but that after she met Filippa, 39, in 2005 their friendship had gradually developed into something more.

“I had never intended to fall in love with a woman. Never thought that my heart could beat so fast for a woman. I was insanely in love,” she said.

She wrapped up the programme with another surprise announcement, admitting she had lied in interviews after her retirement when she told reporters she did not know what she would do going forward.

“I have known for almost nine months what I will do in the future. I am going to be a mother,” she said.

Pärson, who made her debut in 1988 at the World Cup in Switzerland, took 19 championship medals, 42 World Cup victories, and two overall World Cup titles in 2004 and 2005.

She also won six Olympic medals — slalom gold at the 2006 Turin Games, a giant slalom silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and four bronzes (slalom in 2002, combined and downhill in 2006, and super-combined in 2010.)

Pärson’s revelation comes soon after Anton Hysén (son of former Liverpool legend Glenn) was heralded for becoming the first openly gay Swedish footballer, and former high-jumper Kajsa Bergqvist said that she was bisexual.


Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday agreed a draft bill that would compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination in the armed forces between 1955 and 2000.

Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination
A German flag is sewed to the uniform of a Bundeswehr soldier in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Under the proposed law, which needs to be approved by parliament, soldiers
who were convicted by military courts for being gay, demoted or who otherwise
saw their careers damaged because of their sexual orientation, would receive a
“symbolic amount” of €3,000.

“We cannot erase the suffering inflicted upon these people,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the RND newspaper group. “But we want
to send a signal” and “turn the page on a dark chapter in the history of the
armed forces”, she said.

The compensation would apply to soldiers from the Bundeswehr, which was
created in West Germany in 1955, and to troops from former East Germany's
National People's Army, founded in 1956.

READ ALSO: More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe

The defence ministry estimates that about 1,000 people would be eligible
for a payout.

Military court judgments against soldiers for engaging in consensual gay sex acts would also be quashed under the draft bill.

It took until 1969 for homosexuality to be decriminalised in West Germany, but discrimination against gay service people continued for much longer, including after Germany was reunified in 1990.

Gay soldiers could expect to be overlooked for promotions or removed from positions of responsibility, with senior officers often deeming them a “security risk” or a bad example to others.

That ended with a law change in 2000 that officially protected gay, lesbian
and bisexual people from discrimination in the armed forces.