LGBT rights in Greenland

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Greenland (orthographic projection).svg
Location of Greenland
StatusNever criminalised in Greenlandic law.
Legal since 1933,
age of consent equalized in 1977 (Danish law)
Gender identityTransgender persons allowed to change legal gender without a diagnosis, hormone therapy, surgery or sterilization
MilitaryLGBT people allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protectionsSome sexual orientation protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2016
AdoptionFull adoption rights since 2016

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Greenland are some of the most extensive in the Americas and the world, relatively similar to those in Denmark proper in Europe. Same-sex sexual activity is legal, with an equal age of consent, and there are some anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people. Same-sex couples had access to registered partnerships, which provided them with nearly all of the rights provided to married opposite-sex couples, from 1996 to 2016. On 1 April 2016, a law repealing the registered partnership act and allowing for same-sex marriages to be performed came into effect.[1]

In 1979, Denmark granted Greenland home rule and in 2009 extended self-government, although it still influences the island's culture and politics. Greenland is considered to be very socially liberal towards LGBT people. Acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships is high, and reports of discrimination against LGBT people are rare. Nonetheless, due to Greenland's small and scattered population, many Greenlandic LGBT people have moved to Copenhagen in Denmark.[2]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

As is the case with Denmark, same-sex sexual activity is not a crime.[3] It was legalized by Denmark in 1933, and the age of consent was equalized in 1977 at 15, two years prior to home rule.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Greenland adopted Denmark's registered partnership law on 1 July 1996.[4] There was some opposition to registered partnerships from clergy and conservative lawmakers, who later chose to abstain from voting. The bill was passed in the Greenlandic Parliament 15–0 with 12 abstentions, and later by the Danish Parliament 104–1.[2] The first same-sex couple to register did so in 2002.[2] Registered partnerships are called nalunaarsukkamik inooqatigiinneq in Greenlandic.

In March 2015, MP Justus Hansen, from the Democrats, introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Greenland, which also included adoption rights and other changes to Greenlandic family law. The bill was approved unanimously (27–0) by the Parliament of Greenland on 26 May 2015, but required Danish approval before coming into effect. Initially, the bill was to come into effect on 1 October 2015, but lapsed due to the Danish general elections in June 2015. The parliamentary procedure therefore had to start over and the new Venstre Government put an identical bill on the agenda for its first reading on 5 November 2015.[5] On 19 January 2016, the Folketing (Danish Parliament) approved the proposal 108–0 and the bill was given royal assent by Queen Margrethe II on 3 February 2016. The parts of the law relating to marriage went into effect on 1 April 2016.

Same-sex marriage became legal on 1 April 2016.[6][7] Application in Greenland of the registered partnership law was repealed the day the new marriage law took effect.

Adoption and family planning[edit]

Same-sex couples in registered partnerships have been permitted to adopt their stepchildren since 1 June 2009.[8] A law regarding in vitro fertilization (IVF) for female couples was approved in 2006. The parts of the same-sex marriage law allowing same-sex couples to adopt children jointly went into effect on 1 July 2016.[9]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Since 2010, Greenland has outlawed hate speech and provided penalty enhancements to hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation.[3] Article 100 of the Criminal Code prohibits speech which may deprive, threaten or demean individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, among other categories.[10]

Greenland possesses no anti-discrimination laws in employment, goods and services, health services or education. Danish anti-discrimination laws do not apply to Greenland. Greenland's only anti-discrimination law is Act no. 3 of November 29, 2013 on equality between men and women (Greenlandic: Angutit arnallu naligiissitaanissaat pillugu Inatsisartut inatsisaat nr. 3, 29. november 2013-meersoq; Danish: Inatsisartutlov nr. 3 af 29. november 2013 om ligestilling af mænd og kvinder) which bans gender-based discrimination only.[11]

The Human Rights Council of Greenland, funded by the state budget, promotes and protects human rights in Greenland. It is commissioned to participate in the strengthening and consolidation of human rights, and works closely with the Danish Institute for Human Rights.[12]

Other than taking a case to court or referring to the Greenlandic Ombudsman, no national complaints procedure exists in which one can bring forth legal complaints of discrimination.[13] Nevertheless, incidents of discrimination based on sexual orientation are rare.[2]

Transgender rights[edit]

The Act on Sterilisation and Castration (Greenlandic: Kinguaassiorsinnaajunnaarsagaaneq pillugu inatsit; Danish: Lov om sterilisation og kastration) of the Realm of Denmark came into force in Greenland in 1975, allowing sex changes in the country.[14][15]

Transgender people in Greenland may change the sex designation on their official identity documents. A law passed in 2016 by decree allows legal sex changes based on self-determination. Transgender people can apply to change their legal gender without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, sterilization or receiving a medical diagnosis.[16][17]

Since 2016, Greenlanders over 18 years of age who wish to apply for a legal sex change can do so by stating that they want to change their documentation, followed by a six-month-long "reflection period" to confirm the request.[16][17][18]

Besides male and female, Greenlandic passports are available with an "X" sex descriptor.[16][17][19]

LGBT rights movement in Greenland[edit]

Due to the small and scattered population, there is virtually no gay scene in Greenland. Some nightclubs and bars in the capital Nuuk have a mixed gay and straight crowd. Many Greenlandic LGBT people have moved to Nuuk, Sisimiut, Ilulissat or Copenhagen in Denmark. There was an LGBT rights organization called "Qaamaneq" (Light) from 2002 to 2007 which organized social and cultural events.[20] The organization was reestablished in 2014 as LGBT Qaamaneq.[21] LGBT activist Hajlmar Dahl states that homophobia is more prevalent in smaller remote communities.

GlobalGayz describes Greenland as a model for LGBT rights; "[a]s for gay marriage [...], Greenland was distinct among almost every other country in the world. The issue caused virtually no one's heart to skip a beat. Other countries that now allow gay marriage experienced dramatic demonstrations, resistance and delay, even in Denmark [...]. In Greenland there were no demands in the streets for marriage equality, no lengthy advocacy, very little governmental debate and virtually no media coverage. Indeed, one native said 'gay rights have come from the work of straight people'." The legalisation of registered partnerships in 1996 and same-sex marriage in 2016 fueled very little opposition and stirred little to no debate.[22]

On 15 May 2010, Greenland held its first pride parade in Nuuk.[23][24][25] It was attended by about 1,000 people.[2]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1933)
Equal age of consent (15) Yes (Since 1977)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in hate speech Yes (Since 2010)[26]
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity No
Same-sex marriage(s) Yes (Since 2016)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 1996)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2009)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2016)
LGBT people allowed to serve in the military Yes (Since 1978; the Kingdom of Denmark responsible for defence)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 1975)[27][15][16][17]
Access to IVF for lesbian couples Yes (Since 2006)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Illegal for heterosexual couples also)
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes/No (Since March 2020, 4-month deferral period. The deferral period is waived off if the individual is in a stable monogamous relationship; Transfusion Medicine Standards published by the Danish Society for Clinical Immunology applies)[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vielse af homoseksuelle". Government of Greenland (in Danish). Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gay Greenland--Past and Present - GlobalGayz". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Gay Greenland News & Reports". 8 June 2009. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  4. ^ Yuval Merin (2010). Equality for Same-Sex Couples: The Legal Recognition of Gay Partnerships in Europe and the United States. University of Chicago Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-226-52033-9.
  5. ^ "Kalender". Folketinget. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  6. ^ Dam, Camilla (1 April 2016). "Første homoseksuelle par viet i kirken". Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation (in Danish). Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  7. ^ Williams, Joe (1 April 2016). "Same sex couples can now officially marry in Greenland". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Anordning om ikrafttræden for Grønland af lov om ændring af lov om registreret partnerskab m.v." (PDF).
  9. ^ "*". Folketinget.
  10. ^ "Bekendtgørelse af kriminallov for Grønland" (PDF). (in Danish). 7 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Angutit arnallu naligiissitaanissaat pillugu Inatsisartut inatsisaat nr. 3, 29. november 2013-meersoq". Inatsisartut (in Kalaallisut).
  12. ^ "Denmark". Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Universal Periodic Review of Denmark, 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Inatsit 233 juunip 12-at 1975-imit Kinguaassiorsinnaajunnaarsagaaneq pillugu inatsisip Kalaallit Nunaannut atortuulersinneqarneranik inatsit - Lov nr 233 af 12. juni 1975 om ikraftsættelse for Grønland af lov om sterilisation og kastration (Greenlandic and Danish)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Inatsit 318 juunip 13-anit 1975-imit Kinguaassiorsinnaajunnaarsagaaneq pillugu inatsit - Lov nr. 318 af 13. juni 1973 om sterilisation og kastration (Greenlandic and Danish)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d "§2, Imm. 3, Qitiusumik Inunnik Nalunaarsuiffik pillugu inatsisip (CPR pillugu inatsit) allanngortinneqarneranik inatsisit Kalaallit Nunaannut atuutilersinneqarnerannik peqqussut (Greenlandic)" (PDF). Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d "§2, Stk 3., Anordning om ikrafttræden for Grønland af love om ændring af lov om Det Centrale Personregister (Danish)". Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  18. ^ "*". Folketinget.
  19. ^ "Denmark: X in Passports and New Trans Law Works". Transgender Europe. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Denmark - GlobalGayz". Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Ny landsforening for lesbiske, bøsser, bisexuelle og transkønnede". Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation, 18 August 2014.
  22. ^ Ammon, Richard. "Gay Greenland--Past and Present". GlobalGayz. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Nuuk: 1st Gay Pride parade on 15 May". Sikunews. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  24. ^ "Nuuk's Gay Pride parade a success". Sikunews. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  25. ^ Allen, Dan. "WorldWatch: Greenland's First Gay Pride | Gay & Lesbian Travel Guides". Trip Out Gay Travel. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  26. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Inatsit 233 juunip 12-at 1975-imit Kinguaassiorsinnaajunnaarsagaaneq pillugu inatsisip Kalaallit Nunaannut atortuulersinneqarneranik inatsit - Lov nr 233 af 12. juni 1975 om ikraftsættelse for Grønland af lov om sterilisation og kastration (Greenlandic and Danish)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  28. ^ "Vejledning vedrørende oprettelse og vedligehold af bloddonor-korps samt tapning og transfusion (Danish)" (PDF). Embedslægeinstitutionen i Grønland. Retrieved 10 September 2020.