Norway’s PM apologises for historical gay convictions

Prime Minister of Norway

Norway has apologised for historical convictions against gay men with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre saying the previous laws were wrong.

Homosexual sex was illegal in Norway from 1902 until 1972. By the time the law was taken off the books it had been decades since the country had actually prosecuted someone for the crime, but between 1902 and 1950 there were 119 individual people charged.

“Through legislation, but also through a network of sanctions, we as a nation and society made it clear that we did not accept queer love. The government wishes to apologise for that,” Stoere said this week ahead of the 50th anniversary of the laws being removed.

In a statement the government said the laws had caused a significant level of distress for gay people.

“The law had a large symbolic value and meant that queer people were subjected to widespread condemnation, extensive discrimination, slander and blackmail,” the government said.

“Criminalising and prosecuting people for their love life, medically treating healthy people, depriving them of career and work opportunities are serious violations of our values,” it added.

Since the laws against homosexuality were removed Norway has been a world leader in many aspects of LGBTIQA+ rights. Same sex couple in Norway were able to obtain Civil Partnerships in 1993, they were the second country in the world to offer the pathway for recognising relationships following Denmark. Marriage equality was achieved in Norway in 2009.

The country also recognised LGBTIQA+ related hate crimes in 1981, making them the first country to introduce specific legislation. In 2020 the country’s legislature amended the laws to include bisexual and transgender people too.

LGBTIQA+ rights groups have welcomed the apology but also highlighted there still areas where the government could improve people’s lives by bringing in additional protections including legal recognition of a third gender, improved health care for people who are transgender and bans on conversion therapy practices.

According to a report published in 2020 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexuality is still prohibited in 69 countries, including 11 where it is punishable by death.

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