LGBT rights in Norway

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LGBT rights in Norway Norway
Location of  LGBT rights in Norway  (dark green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1972
Gender identity/expression Transgender persons allowed to change legal gender
Military service LGBT people allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, intersex status protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Registered partnerships from 1993–2009*
Same-sex marriage since 2009
*Existing partnerships remain valid, but no new partnerships accepted
Adoption Married and committed same-sex couples allowed to adopt
A rainbow flag being displayed in Norway

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

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1972.[1] At the same time of legalization, the age of consent became equal regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation, at 16.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Gender-neutral marriage has been legally recognized since 1 January 2009 in Norway.[3]

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 The move was withdrawn and replaced by a request that the cabinet further investigate the issue.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 came 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 will 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 church weddings, 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.[4]

In 2014, the Church of Norway's National Council voted down a proposal to perform same-sex marriages in the church.[5]

In 2015, the Church of Norway voted to allow same-sex marriages to take place in its churches.[6] The decision was ratified at the annual conference on 11 April 2016.[7][8][9]

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.[10] 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.[11][12] Transgender persons may serve openly as well.[13]

Discrimination protections and hate crime laws[edit]

LGBT flag map of Norway

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.[14] The country has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment since 1998. Norway also has a law explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression, by a report from ILGA-Europe. Norway is one few countries in the world to protect intersex people and explicitly states it in its anti-discrimination law, by the same report from ILGA-Europe.[15]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

On 18 March 2016, the Government introduced a bill to allow legal gender change 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 could have that possibility with parental consent.[16][17][18] The bill was approved by a vote of 79-13 by Parliament on 6 June.[19][20] The bill was promulgated on 17 June and took effect on 1 July 2016.[18][21] One month after the law took effect, 190 people had already applied to change their gender.[22]

Blood donation[edit]

In June 2016, the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs announced it would try to change this ban and enact a one year deferral period instead.[23]

Since 1 June 2017 the new 1 year deferral period for MSM policy was implemented.


In October 2016, Norway's Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie made the announcement that the HIV-prevention drug, PrEP, will be offered free of charge as part of Norway's National Health Service. Norway is the first country in the world to do this.[24][25][26]

Condition of LGBT rights[edit]

Norway is generally gay-friendly.[27] The most open and including community can be found in the capital, Oslo, where many gay-friendly events and venues are located.[28]

In 2015, media said that there is a move to have a taxi station moved from near the entrance to Oslo's oldest so-called gay pub; Muslims claimed that pictures have been taken by muslim taxi drivers parked at the station of Muslims entering the pub; some of these pictures have later been distributed widely within Muslim communities.[29]

On 1 September 2016, King Harald V of Norway delivered an impassioned speech in favor of LGBT rights and refugees.[30][31] By 7 September, his speech had received nearly 80,000 likes on Facebook and viewed more than three million times.

Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and boys and girls who love each other.

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 support gender-neutral marriage laws.[32][33]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, a 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.[34]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1972)
Equal age of consent 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)[35]
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
Conversion therapy on minors outlawed Emblem-question.svg
Access to IVF for lesbians and automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth Yes (Since 2009)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Banned regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes/No (Since 2017) 1 year deferral period

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ (in Norwegian) Almindelig borgerlig Straffelov (Straffeloven)
  3. ^ AVCATHERINE STEIN  . "Same sex marriage law passed by wide majority". Archived from the original on 17 June 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Norway" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "60 års homokamp: Stå oppreist og samlet". 21 June 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  12. ^ LGBT world legal wrap up survey
  13. ^ What Other Countries Can Teach America About Transgender Military Service
  14. ^ "Fact Sheet: Nationwide Legal Protection From Discriminatiion Based On Sexual Orientation". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  15. ^ Rainbow Europe: Norway
  16. ^ Norway set to allow gender change without medical intervention
  17. ^ Easier to change legal gender
  18. ^ a b (in Norwegian) Lov om endring av juridisk kjønn
  19. ^ Norway now allows trans people to decide their own gender
  20. ^ Norway becomes fourth country in the world to allow trans people to determine their own gender
  21. ^ (in Norwegian) Lov om endring av juridisk kjønn
  22. ^ Nearly 200 apply to change gender under new Norway law
  23. ^ (in Norwegian) Homofile menn kan snart få gi blod. Men bare de som ikke har sex
  24. ^ Norway Becomes First Country to Offer Free PrEP
  25. ^ Norway to prescribe PrEP free-of-charge to at risk groups
  27. ^ Gay Guide: Norway July 14, 2012.
  28. ^ Gay Oslo July 14, 2012.
  29. ^ Vil ha slutt på snikfotografering av homofile
  30. ^ "King of Norway reigns on Facebook after diversity speech". The Guardian. 7 September 2016. 
  31. ^ King of Norway delivers emotionally charged speech in favour of LGBT rights, refugees and tolerance
  32. ^ Partners Task Force - Norway Offers Legal Marriage
  33. ^ Same-Sex Marriage: Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally Archived 14 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
  35. ^ Act relating to a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (the Sexual Orientation Anti - Discrimination Act)