Flytoget, the Airport Express Train that serves Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, is gearing up to welcome visitors traveling to Oslo for the annual gay and lesbian Europride Festival later this month. While the local bus company turned down a request to fly the rainbow flags that hail homosexuality, airport train officials announced that their employees can do so proudly.
“Any sign of inclusiveness is good, and I see Flytoget as an inclusive workplace,” Per Kristian Brændø, who will wave a rainbow flag while on duty for Flytoget, told newspaper Aftenposten. Flytoget’s marketing chief Lena Nesteby said that many of the train’s employees march in the parade known as Oslopride, and wear their Flytoget uniforms. “They do that because they’re proud to work for Flytoget,” she said. Allowing them to wave a rainbow flag or sport a rainbow scarf while on duty during Europride week, she said, “is our way of giving something back.”
Officials at Ruter didn’t feel the same, saying that they’re often approached about flying various flags to mark various occasions, such as the Sami National Day in February or Europride. “Then you open a door where many want in,” Ruter chairman Bent Stilluf Karlsen told Aftenposten. He also cited the expense and work involved with mounting flags on Ruter’s entire bus fleet.
“We just want all guests who come to Oslo to feel welcome,” said Stein Runar Østigaard, leader of festival organizers for Europride in Oslo. “Oslo is an open and tolerant city. In other cities in Europe the situation is different.” Europride week runs from June 20-29, featuring concerts, workshops, seminars, speeches and a parade.