LGBT rights in Norway

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Location of LGBT rights in Norway (orange)

in Europe (white)  –  [Legend]

StatusLegal since 1972
Gender identityTransgender persons allowed to change legal gender
MilitaryLGBT people allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation, gender identity/expression, intersex status protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2009
AdoptionMarried and committed same-sex couples allowed to adopt
A rainbow flag being displayed in Oslo

Norway, like most of Scandinavia, is very liberal in regards to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights. In 1981, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to enact an anti-discrimination law explicitly including sexual orientation. Same-sex marriage, adoption, and assisted insemination treatments for lesbian couples have been legal since 2009. In 2016, Norway became the fourth country in Europe to pass a law allowing the change of legal gender for transgender people solely based on self-determination.

Much like the other Nordic countries, Norway is frequently referred to as one of the world's most LGBT-friendly nations, with high societal acceptance and tolerance of LGBT people. Recent opinion polls have found very high levels of support for same-sex marriage among the Norwegian public.[1]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1972.[2] At the same time of legalization, the age of consent became equal regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation, at 16.[3]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Gender-neutral marriage has been legally recognized since 1 January 2009 in Norway.[4]

A bill was proposed on 18 November 2004 by two MPs from the Socialist Left Party to abolish the existing civil union laws, and make marriage laws gender-neutral. The move was withdrawn and replaced by a request that the cabinet further investigate the issue. The conservative cabinet of that time did not look into the issue. However, the second cabinet Stoltenberg announced a common, unified marriage act as part of its foundation document, the Soria Moria statement. A public hearing was opened on 16 May 2007.

On 29 May 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian opposition parties had come out in favour of the new bill, assuring its passage when at 11 June vote. Prior to this, there were some disagreements with members of the current three-party governing coalition on whether the bill had enough votes to pass.

The first parliamentary hearing, including the vote, was held on 11 June 2008 approving by 84 votes to 41 a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry. This came after the Norwegian Government proposed a marriage law on 14 March 2008, that would give lesbian and gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including religious weddings (if the church so chooses), adoption and assisted pregnancies. The new legislation amended the definition of civil marriage to make it gender-neutral. Norway's upper legislative chamber (Lagtinget) passed the bill in a 23–17 vote. The King of Norway granted royal assent thereafter. The law took effect on 1 January 2009.

Prior to the gender-neutral marriage law, a civil partnership law had been in effect since 1993. Partnerskapsloven, as it was known in Norwegian, granted many marriage rights to same-sex couples, only without calling it marriage. In 1991, unregistered same-sex cohabitation was recognized by the Government for the granting of limited rights, such as being considered as next of kin for medical decisions, and in the event of wrongful death of one partner the other partner was entitled to compensation.[5]

In 2014, the Church of Norway's National Council voted down a proposal to perform same-sex marriages in the church.[6] In 2015, it reversed course and voted to allow same-sex marriages to take place in its churches.[7] The decision was ratified at the annual conference on 11 April 2016.[8][9][10]

Adoption and family planning[edit]

Married and committed same-sex couples are permitted to adopt under Norwegian law. Stepchild adoption has been allowed for registered partners since 2002.[11] Full adoption rights were granted to same-sex couples in 2009. For lesbians, artificial insemination is available.

Additionally, pursuant to the law which legalized same-sex marriage, when a woman who is married to or in a stable co-habiting relationship with another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the other partner will have all the rights and duties of parenthood "from the moment of conception".

Military status[edit]

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people can serve openly in the Armed Forces. They have had full rights and anti-discrimination protections since 1979.[12][13] Transgender persons may serve openly as well.[14]

Discrimination protections and hate crime laws[edit]

In 1981, Norway became the first country in the world to enact a law to prevent discrimination against LGBT people by amending Paragraph 349a of its Penal Code, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the provision of goods or services and in access to public gatherings. In the same year, Paragraph 135a of the Penal Code was amended to prohibit hate speech directed at LGBT people.[15] The country has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment since 1998. Norway also has a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression since 2013,[16] and is one of the few countries in the world to explicitly protect intersex people from discrimination.[17]

Section 5 of the Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Act (Norwegian: Diskrimineringsloven om seksuell orientering), enacted in 2013, states as follows:[18]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

On 18 March 2016, the Government introduced a bill to allow legal gender changes without any form of psychiatric or psychological evaluation, diagnosis or any kind of medical intervention, by people aged at least 16. Minors aged between 6 and 16 also may also transition, but require parental consent.[19][20][21] The bill was approved by a vote of 79-13 by Parliament on 6 June.[22][23] It was promulgated on 17 June and took effect on 1 July 2016.[21][24] One month after the law took effect, 190 people had already applied to change their gender.[25]

Conversion therapy[edit]

Europride was held in Oslo in 2014.

In 2000, the Norwegian Psychiatric Association overwhelmingly voted for the position statement that "homosexuality is no disorder or illness, and can therefore not be subject to treatment. A 'treatment' with the only aim of changing sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual must be regarded as ethical malpractice, and should have no place in the health system".[26]

Health and blood donation[edit]

In June 2016, the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs announced it would try to change a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood and enact a one year deferral period instead.[27] On 1 June 2017, the new 1 year deferral period was implemented. Since that date, gay and bisexual men can donate blood in Norway, similarly to most of Western Europe.[28]

In October 2016, Norway's Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie made the announcement that the HIV-prevention drug, PrEP, would be offered free of charge as part of Norway's National Health Service. Norway was the first country in the world to do this.[29][30][31]

Living conditions[edit]

Participants at the 2019 Oslo Pride parade

Norway is very gay-friendly.[32] The most open and inclusive community can be found in the capital, Oslo, where many gay-friendly events and venues are located including the Raballder Sports Cup and the Oslo Pride Festival.[33] Other events include the Scandinavian Ski Pride held in Hemsedal, Trondheim Pride held in Trondheim and Bergen Pride (Regnbuedagene) in Bergen.[34] 45,000 people participated in the 2019 edition of Oslo Pride, and a further 250,000 attended and watched the event, according to the organisers.[35] Several LGBT associations exist throughout the country, including the Association for Gender and Sexuality Diversity (Foreningen for kjønns- og seksualitetsmangfold), established in 1950 as the first gay organisation in Norway, Queer Youth (Skeiv Ungdom), Gay & Lesbian Health Norway, the Centre for Equality (Likestillingssenteret) and the Transgender Association (Forbundet for Transpersoner), among others. These groups variously offer helplines and counselling to LGBT youth, promote health and HIV prevention and advocate for the legal rights of same-sex couples and transgender individuals.[36] In the far north of Norway, Sápmi Pride is held annually, changing locations between Finland, Sweden and Norway every year. In March 2019, Norway was named the fourth best LGBT-friendly travel destination in the world,[37] tied with Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

The legal situation for same-sex couples is among the best in the world. Norway was the second country, after neighbouring Denmark, to offer registered partnerships to couples with many of the rights of marriage. In 2009, Norway became the sixth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada and South Africa. Legislation concerning adoption, gender changes for transgender people and anti-discrimination have all been amended in the past decades to include and apply to LGBT people and couples.

In 2015, media reported that there were calls to have a taxi station moved from near the entrance to Oslo's oldest gay pub. Several Muslims claimed that pictures had been taken of them entering the pub by taxi drivers parked at the station; some of these pictures were later distributed widely within Muslim communities.[38]

On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an impassioned speech in favor of LGBT rights.[39][40] By 7 September, his speech had received nearly 80,000 likes on Facebook and viewed more than three million times. A part of his speech read as follows:

Public opinion[edit]

Five different polls conducted by Gallup Europe, Sentio, Synovate MMI, Norstat and YouGov in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013 concluded that 61%, 63%, 66%, 58%, 70% and 78%, respectively, of the Norwegian population supported gender-neutral marriage laws.[41][42]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Norway was ranked second, just above Denmark and below Iceland, with a GHI score of 77.[43]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1972)
Equal age of consent (16) Yes (Since 1972)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 1998)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 1981)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 1981)
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity Yes (Since 2013)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2009)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 1993)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2002)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2009)
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 1979)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2016)
Conversion therapy on minors outlawed No
Access to IVF for lesbians and automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth Yes (Since 2009)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Banned regardless of gender or sexual orientation)
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes/No (Since 2017; 1 year deferral period)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Being Christian in Western Europe, Pew Research Center, 29 May 2018
  2. ^ "State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  3. ^ (in Norwegian) Almindelig borgerlig Straffelov (Straffeloven)
  4. ^ AVCATHERINE STEIN. "Same sex marriage law passed by wide majority". Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Norway" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Question of same-sex marriages unresolved". NRK/Vårt Land. The Norway Post. 9 April 2014. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  7. ^ Wee, Darren (2 November 2015). "Norway bishops open doors to gay church weddings". Gay Star News. Archived from the original on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  8. ^ Pettersen, Jørgen; Edvardsen, Ingvild; Skjærseth, Lars Erik (11 April 2016). "Nå kan homofile gifte seg i kirka". NRK. Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  9. ^ Oesterud, Tor Ingar (11 April 2016). "Large majority want gay marriage in church". Norway Today. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  10. ^ Fouche, Gwladys (11 April 2016). "Norway's Lutheran church votes in favor of same-sex marriage". Reuters. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ Asland, John; Waaldijk, Kees. "Major legal consequences of marriage, cohabitation and registered partnership for different-sex and same-sex partners in Norway" (PDF). INED. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 November 2014.
  12. ^ "60 års homokamp: Stå oppreist og samlet". 21 June 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  13. ^ LGBT world legal wrap up survey
  14. ^ What Other Countries Can Teach America About Transgender Military Service
  15. ^ "Fact Sheet: Nationwide Legal Protection From Discriminatiion Based On Sexual Orientation". Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  16. ^ Act relating to a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (the Sexual Orientation Anti - Discrimination Act)
  17. ^ Rainbow Europe: Norway
  18. ^ "Act relating to a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (the Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Act)" (PDF).
  19. ^ Norway set to allow gender change without medical intervention
  20. ^ Easier to change legal gender
  21. ^ a b (in Norwegian) Lov om endring av juridisk kjønn
  22. ^ Norway now allows trans people to decide their own gender
  23. ^ Norway becomes fourth country in the world to allow trans people to determine their own gender
  24. ^ (in Norwegian) Lov om endring av juridisk kjønn
  25. ^ Nearly 200 apply to change gender under new Norway law
  26. ^ Kjær, Reider (2003). "Look to Norway? Gay Issues and Mental Health Across the Atlantic Ocean". Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy. Haworth Medical Press. 7 (1/2): 55–73. doi:10.1300/J236v07n01_05.
  27. ^ (in Norwegian) Homofile menn kan snart få gi blod. Men bare de som ikke har sex
  28. ^ (in Norwegian) Hvem kan, og hvem kan ikke være blodgivere
  29. ^ Norway Becomes First Country to Offer Free PrEP
  30. ^ Norway to prescribe PrEP free-of-charge to at risk groups
  32. ^ Gay Guide: Norway Archived 8 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine July 14, 2012.
  33. ^ Gay Oslo July 14, 2012.
  34. ^ Gay Rights While Traveling in Norway
  35. ^ Eirik Husøy (22 June 2019). "I dag går Pride-paraden gjennom Oslo sentrum". Aftenposten (in Norwegian).
  36. ^ David Nikel (24 October 2018). "LGBT Resources in Norway". Life in Norway.
  37. ^ Daniel Avery (6 March 2019). "Canada, Portugal, Sweden Named World's Most LGBTQ-friendly Travel Destinations". Newsweek.
  38. ^ Vil ha slutt på snikfotografering av homofile
  39. ^ "King of Norway reigns on Facebook after diversity speech". The Guardian. 7 September 2016.
  40. ^ King of Norway delivers emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBT rights, refugees and tolerance
  41. ^ Partners Task Force - Norway Offers Legal Marriage
  42. ^ Same-Sex Marriage: Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally Archived 14 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo