May 2, 2012
According to WORLD News Service, Sweden is attempting to implement a gender-neutral society, and its online National Encyclopedia has introduced a gender-neutral pronoun, "hen," that it hopes will replace "he" and "she" in most public and private discourse. The encyclopedia entry defines hen as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of 'he' [han in Swedish] and 'she' [hon]." It is the latest instance in decades of "gender-bending" in Sweden; in 1944, the country legalized same-sex sexual activity and in 2009 its parliament legalized gay marriage with a vote of 261 to 22. Sweden's attitudes regarding sexuality may be taking a toll -- its birthrate, like much of Europe, lost population in the late 1990s and early 200s and is now below replacement levels. The population growth today is holding its own largely because of immigration; many of the immigrants are Muslim, who now make up about 5 percent of the population and are growing rapidly.