Sign in / Join

Swedish town ‘overwhelmingly’ rejects proposal for paid sex breaks for local employees

It is said that Overtonea’s population is dwindling not a resultof little sexual activity, but because of young people leaving the town.

When a politician in a small town in northern Sweden recently suggested that it subsidize one-hour sex breaks for local employees, Swedes – and people around the world – reacted with a mixture of astonishment, glee and derision.

The politician, Per-Erik Muskos, 42, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, said his proposal could help lift the town’s birthrate. Sexologists argued that state-funded sexual interludes could spice up marriages. As news of the idea spread, the scenic town of Overtornea was suddenly portrayed as the latest emblem of Scandinavia’s liberal values and generous welfare state.

This week, however, the town’s 31-member council overwhelmingly rejected the proposal on the grounds that if sexual intercourse should be subsidized, then so should many other personal activities, such as gardening or cleaning. The proposal had suggested that an hour of the workweek already devoted to fitness activities could be used by workers to go home and have sex with a spouse or partner instead.

“If sexual congress is considered a valid activity, then other activities should be approved, such as cleaning,” the council’s decision, initially published Monday, concluded.

The issue of work-life balance is taken seriously in European countries. But critics of the Swedish proposal had argued that it is too intrusive and that it could stigmatize some employees: those who were single, for example, or who did not feel like having sex.

In its decision, the council also rejected Muskos’ argument that state-subsidized sexual excursions during working hours would encourage couples to have more children. It said that Overtornea’s dwindling population was not a result of too little sexual activity, but of young people leaving the town in search of opportunity or prosperity.

Muskos said he was unhappy that his proposal had been rejected, but not surprised. He said he remained convinced that if his idea had caught on, it would have strengthened romantic relationships, benefited busy couples with children, and empowered women by giving them time to ensure they were sexually satisfied. “I expected this. But I am disappointed,” he said.