Norway's support to Equal Rights Coalition and efforts for LHBTI+ persons

State Secretary Bjørg Sandkjær's greetings (by video) to the Global LGBTI Conference held in Argentina.

Greetings from Oslo to everyone!

Dear colleagues and partners in the ERC.

Let me first of all express Norway’s appreciation to Argentina for hosting this Global LGBTI Conference. I also want to thank both Argentina and the UK for their strong leadership during the past three years as co-chairs of the Coalition.

I am pleased to know that many participants have traveled to Buenos Aires to take part in important discussions during this conference. Although I was not able to be present myself, I can assure you of Norway’s strong support for the Coalition, its purpose and its strategy.

We know that in every corner of the world, LGBTI communities and human rights defenders need our solidarity and support in their fight for equal rights and opportunities.

In Norway, consensual same-sex relations was decriminalized 50 years ago. Throughout the year, we are celebrating this anniversary by promoting queer history, arts and culture. But we need to do more.

In June, we were reminded of how intolerance and hatred against LGBTI persons can lead to violence. As thousands of people in Oslo were preparing for the long-awaited Pride Parade, a horrifying attack was directed against innocent individuals outside a popular hangout for queer people. Two people were killed, several others injured. The Pride Parade itself had to be canceled for security reasons.

The day of the Pride Parade that was meant to be a celebration of freedom, love and diversity, became a moment of sorrow. But also solidarity. And the recognition that our fight for equality for all, must continue.

The Norwegian Government has publicly apologised for the previous criminalisation and prosecution of queer people in Norway. It has committed to introducing a ban on conversion therapy. At the moment, we are working on a new national action plan to improve the quality of life and mental health of LGBTI. This action plan will especially consider transgender and non-binary persons, LGBTI persons with a minority background, as well as LGBTI persons in closed religious communities. It is being developed with inputs from civil society organisations.

In our international engagement, too, we put high emphasis on the dialogue with and support to civil society organisations. The Equal Rights Coalition is an important platform for this dialogue, and for our joint efforts.

Norway will continue to be actively engaged in the diplomacy and donor coordination working groups of the ERC, with the aim to advance the work of the coalition and support the new co-chairs Mexico and Germany.

To advance the equal rights and opportunities for LGBTI persons, we have to take an LGBTI focused approach in our broader foreign and development policy. Norway is committed to do so.

Thank you.