LGBT rights in the Faroe Islands

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LGBT rights in the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Decriminalized since 1933, age of consent equalized since 1988.
Gender identity/expression Not legal
Military service Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve in the army since 1978
Discrimination protections Yes
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition
Adoption None

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Support for same-sex marriage (2013 poll)[1]

  Against (27%)
  For (68%)
  Don't know (5%)

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Support for same-sex marriage (2014 poll)[2]

  Against (32%)
  For (61%)
  Don't know (7%)

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Support for same-sex marriage (2014 poll)[3]

  Against (28%)
  For (62%)
  Don't know (10%)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Faroe Islands may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Public attitude is becoming liberal after it has been a long taboo subject. Furthermore, same-sex sexual activity has become legal in the Faroe Islands for decades, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal rights available to opposite-sex couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in the Faroe Islands since 1933. At that time the age of consent was set at 18 for same-sex relations. Then in 1988, the age of consent became gender-neutral and equal at 15.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

The Faroe Islands remains the only Nordic country that does not recognise same-sex unions.

In 2012, Denmark legalised same-sex marriage, however the law did not affect the Faroe Islands or Greenland.

A set of bills to extend Danish same-sex marriage legislation to the Faroe Islands was submitted to the Løgting on 20 November 2013. These bills do not include the possibility for same-sex couples to have a legally valid church wedding. If approved, they would enter into force on 1 April 2014.[5][6][7] However, parliamentary approval was unlikely due to opposition from the parties of the governing coalition.[8] The bills were rejected at the second reading on 13 March 2014.[9][10][11][12]

Discrimination protections and hate crimes[edit]

Denmark had prohibited discrimination on sexual orientation was enforced in 1987. The Faroese parliament also proposed a similar bill in 1988. However, the bill was rejected as only 1 voted "Yes" while 17 voted "No".[13] The bill was not proposed again until November 2005, but it was rejected again and the Faroese parliament was also criticized by an Icelandic MP.[14]

Discrimination against gays and lesbians on the islands is rare but became a hot topic in 2006 after Rasmus Rasmussen, a 25-year-old openly gay musician and popular radio host, allegedly was assaulted by five men in Tórshavn. On the internet, 20000 signatures were collected from different parts of world (mostly Danish, Icelandic and Faroese people) to urge the Faroese parliament to vote to ban discrimination against people with different sexual orientation.[15]

On 15 December 2006, in a 17–15 vote, Faroese legislators included the words "sexual orientation" in the islands' anti-discrimination law § 266B. § 266B states that "Whoever publicly or with the intention of dissemination to a wider circle makes statement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of their race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to a fine or imprisonment up to 2 years."[16][17] The law took effect on 1 January 2007. Thus, the Faroe Islands became one of the last Western European countries and the last Northern European country to ban discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.

Living conditions[edit]

Prior to 2012, LGBT rights was not a high-profile issue in the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands has been stereotyped as "a homophobic country" by other Nordic countries for a long time. Generally, this is because the Faroe Islands is the most religious region in the Nordics and religious observance is widespread and intense among the Faroese.[18] The Faroe Islands also has a lack of gay rights like in the other Nordic countries as it remains the only Nordic region that does not recognize any same-sex unions. Both factors have created an assumption that Faroese people are intolerant of LGBT individuals. But the main reason is, there were various homophobic incidents happened that were widespread in the Scandinavian press. For example:

1. In 2005, by a vote of 20 to 12 (with 1 abstention), the Parliament of the Faroe Islands rejected a bill that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The members of Parliament who voted against it claimed that since 'homosexuality goes against the Bible,' discrimination against a person on that basis should be lawful. There were also many insult comments from the parliament members, equaling LGBT people to sinners and pedophiles.[19][20]

2. The members of Great Garlic Girls, a group of Norwegian males who perform in drag, had to run for their lives when a gang of young men, intent on assaulting them physically, chased them down the street in Tórshavn.[19]

3. In 2006, Rasmus Rasmussen, a well-known, well-liked, and well-respected Faroese singer, songwriter, guitarist, and host of a radio program publicly announced that he was gay and a short time later five men beat him up in Tórshavn. He was rushed to the emergency room of the nearest hospital and later moved to a psychiatric hospital because he had fallen into a deep depression, which have been prompted only by the thrashing he had suffered. After the media reported the beating, he and his family got threatening telephone calls.[19] On 10 October 2012, Rasmussen committed suicide.[21]

4. In 2010, another homophobic case became widespread in the Scandinavian press. This was because several MPs from a Christianity-based conservative party declined the invitation to have dinner with the ex-Icelandic Prime Minister who was a married lesbian. One of the party members, Jenis av Rana, said "the declination to accept the dinner invitation was because of the party's views against same-sex marriages."[14] Furthermore, Jenis even said that a majority of Faroese people would agree with his statement. This caused a lot of criticisms and complaints from the Faroese media towards Jenis av Rana.[22]

However, the recent developments showed that the Faroe Islands is becoming more and more liberal. This was probably because after the Faroese parliament approved banning discrimination towards LGBT people, many LGBT people were encouraged to come out publicly.[23] There were various LGBT exhibitions on the islands like "Hvat er natúrligt?"[24] or ""Gay Greenland"[25] that gained public support towards the LGBT community.

The Faroese LGBT population also got support from some famous Faroese people, like Eivør Pálsdóttir.[26]

Furthermore, a May 2013 Gallup survey found that 68% favoured civil marriage for same-sex couples, with 27% against and 5% undecided. No age groups had more opponents than the supporters.[19][27][28] A more recent poll also showed a similar trend. 62% supported same-sex marriage, while 28% were against it and 10% were undecided.[29] An August 2014 poll has found that 61% of people in the Faroe Islands supported same-sex marriage while 32% opposed.[30]

Despite the recent liberal attitudes towards the LGBT people, there are limitations on the living conditions of the LGBT people.

Visible gay scene are very limited in the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, most of the members of parliament or the government officials are still holding homophobic attitudes or holding religious views to criticize LGBT people that hinder further LGBT rights.[31] This can be also proved from the lack of LGBT rights in the Faroe Islands, making the region scored very low in the "Rainbow Map Europe 2013", especially compared to neighboring countries.[32][33]

In the past, demonization towards LGBT people as "monsters" or "freaks" by the churches or religious leaders was quite common.[19] And until recently, there were limited knowledge and talks about LGBT people and their rights, thus for decades, many of the Faroese LGBT people had to stay in the closet for fear of discrimination. There were also cases of Faroese LGBT people rejected by their family or friends and cases of LGBT people to become "refugees" in other Nordic countries to flee from discrimination or to get their right recognized are not uncommon. Some living in overseas even said they refuse to go back.[20][23]

Furthermore, there were controversies when there was the first gay pride. The Faroese newspapers received a lot of complains & criticisms from readers.[34]

In June 2015 the speaker of the Løgting (the Faroese parliament), Jógvan á Lakjuni wrote a letter to the editor titled "Hvar eru vit á veg?" ("Where are we heading?") where he said his opinion about gay people and other issues. He signed the letter with his name and his position as the speaker of the Løgting.[35] Jógvan á Lakjuni said among other things, citation in Faroese:

"Vit síggja, hvussu selektivt kringvarpið er – t.d., hvussu nógv pláss Lgbt og formaðurin har fáa – meðan onnur, sum royna at tala at, verða láturliggjørd og ignorerað!

Og so er tað Norðurlandahúsið, sum nú beint upp undir ólavsøkuna, okkara kristnu tjóðarhátíð, skal hava eitt heilt vikuskifti við einum sonevndum “dragshowi”, har homo-felagið eisini hevur høvuðsleiklutin. Hvat er hetta fyri nakað? Er ikki skomm skapt í fólki at draga slíka ómentan inn í Norðurlandahúsið?"

Translation into English: "We can see how selective the Kringvarp Føroya is - i.e. how much space the LGBT and the its president get - while other, who try to speak against them, are ridiculed and ignored!

And then there is the Nordic House in Tórshavn, which now just before the Ólavsøka, our Christian nationa holiday, will have a so-called "dragshow", where the homo-organization also plays a major role. What is this? Do these people not feel any shame at all, dragging such non-culture into the Nordic House?"[36]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1933)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1988)
Anti-discrimination laws in hate crime Yes (Since 2007)[37]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2007)[37]
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Same-sex marriage(s) No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes (Denmark responsible for defence. Since 1978)
Right to change legal gender No[38]
Access to IVF for lesbians No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Poll: 68% approve of equal marriage in the Faroe Islands". 
  2. ^ "Faroe Islands poll: 61% support same-sex marriage". 
  3. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Faroe Pride
  5. ^ (Faroese) 51/2013 Uppskot til ríkislógartilmæli um at seta í gildi fyri Føroyar partar av broytingum í hjúnabandslógini og rættarvirknaðarlógini við tilhoyrandi skjølum
  6. ^ (Faroese) 52/2013 Uppskot til ríkislógartilmæli um broyting í rættargangslógini fyri Føroyar
  7. ^ (Faroese) 53/2013 Uppskot til ríkislógartilmæli um broyting í “Anordning om ikrafttræden for Færøerne af lov om ægteskabs indgåelse og opløsning”
  8. ^ (Danish) Færøerne klar til homovielser - og så ikke alligevel
  9. ^ Faroe Islands: Equal marriage bill voted down
  10. ^ (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 51 Viðgerð: 2
  11. ^ (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 52 Viðgerð: 2
  12. ^ (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 53 Viðgerð: 2
  13. ^ Being the ‘Other’ from the Faroe Islands
  14. ^ a b Faroe Islands MP refuses to dine with Iceland’s gay prime minister and her partner
  15. ^ Homophobia "perfectly legal" in Faroe Islands
  16. ^ Island Chain Votes To Ban Discrimination Against Gays
  17. ^ §266b
  18. ^ Faroese religion
  19. ^ a b c d e
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Poll: 68% approve of equal marriage in the Faroe Islands
  28. ^ Large majority agrees with civil marriage for homosexuals
  29. ^
  30. ^ Faroe Islands poll: 61% support same-sex marriage
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Lakjuni, Jógvan á (10 June 2015). "Hvar eru vit á veg?" (in Faroese). (Sosialurin). Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  36. ^ Lakjuni, Jógvan á (11 June 2015). "HVAR ERU VIT Á VEG?" (in Faroese). Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  37. ^ a b
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Vantandi rættindi og mismunur". Retrieved 2014-04-05. 

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