What will elderly homosexuals do in their declining years? In Sweden they may have their own nursing homes. A committee is currently studying how interested the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual community would be in a Regnbågen ("Rainbow") nursing home. "What we want to avoid is the situation which sometimes occurs today where a guy doesn’t dare to tell nursing home staff that it’s his boyfriend of however many years who is coming for a visit," organiser Christer Fällman told The Local, a Swedish newspaper.

Politicians are not keen on the idea, but some businessmen see a potential for a profitable investment. According to Mr Fällman, Stockholm’s decision to turn over the management of much of its elder-care services to private companies has made the project more viable.

"The privatization of nursing homes actually made it easier to move things forward because you have a profit-driven company involved which sees the market potential."

Mr Fällman said that homosexuals needed their own nursing homes, rather like ethnic communities. Finnish nursing homes already exist, and there are plans for Spanish, Greek and Turkish homes as well. Although Regnbågen would cater for the specific needs of homosexuals, patients from other backgrounds would also be welcome. However, it will be at least a couple of years before the proposed institution opens its doors.  

"We don’t want this to be seen as a move back into the closet. Anyone will be allowed to live there. It would be another form of integration."

Will this initiative be copied in other countries? With the number of homosexuals – many of whom have no close family support — apparently rising, something will have to be done. Besides, many are relatively wealthy and may be able to afford specialised accommodation. ~ The Local, July 7

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet