by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson
From the 16th century Gypsies were known as immigrants in
In 1637 all Gypsies were declared outlaws in a law unique in Swedish history. In 1642
the law was modified to an instruction to deport all Gypsies from county to county in the
directions of the borders of the realm. Male Gypsies could be sentenced to beheading for
As a result many of the Gypsies concentrated in the eastern part of the realm, in
what today is Russian Carelia and Finland. They belong to the Sinte-Manuch group of
Gypsies and are called Kalé-Gypsies.
At the end of the 19th century a group of Rom-Gypsies immigrated. Today over 1500
descendents live in Sweden.
When the Nordic citizens became free to move and work in all of the Nordic countries
a considerable part of the Kalé-Gypsies came from Finland to Sweden. This group is today
larger than the former group. Their mother-tongues are different, but many of the
Kalé-Gypsies have Finnish as their first language.
A third group of approximately the same size are refugees arrived from central Europe
during the last 50 years.
The Swedish policy has aimed at assimilation. The assimilation policy has had some
success when it comes to the Gypsies with a long tradition in Sweden, but fared very
poorly with the newer arrivals. It has turned out that few Gypsies get employed, and
relatively more Gypsies have become dependent on cash support from the municipalities than
is the case for any other ethnic group in Sweden.
Gypsies cultivating their particular traits in clothes and morals are perceived as
provoking by many (or most?) Swedes. This minority group has continued to be the most
stigmatized ethnic minority.