Government apologises for past treatment of gay people by the Norwegian authorities

On 21 April 2022, it is 50 years since the Storting repealed section 213 of the Penal Code, which had criminalised sexual relations between men. Between 1902 and 1950, 119 men were convicted of having sexual relations with another man.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Credit: Kaja Schill Godager / Office of the Prime Minister

‘Some 119 people were criminalised and punished for who they loved. These men endured court cases, convictions and imprisonment. They were publicly stigmatised and condemned. Through legislation, but also a range of other discriminatory practices, we, as a nation and a society, made it clear that we did not accept gay love. The Government now wishes to apologise for that,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

In section 213 of the Penal Code, the Norwegian authorities established that homosexuality was a criminal and punishable offence. At the same time, this provision of the Penal Code had a major influence on the way society at large viewed homosexuality. It had great symbolic value, and gay people were subjected to broad condemnation, widespread discrimination, slander and blackmail as a result.

The Government apologises for the way gay people were treated by the public authorities. Criminalising and prosecuting people for who they love, subjecting healthy people to various interventions, and depriving people of career and work opportunities are serious violations of the values that underpin our society today.  

‘This apology is important, both because it acknowledges the injustice of the past, and because it better equips us to deal with the struggles that still remain. Our goal is to improve the living conditions and mental health of gay people. We will review and strengthen the services we offer to individuals with gender incongruence. We will also ban conversion therapy, which is clearly harmful to those who are subjected to it,’ said Minister of Culture and Equality Anette Trettebergstuen.

By the end of this year, the Government will present a new action plan for addressing the rights and needs of LGBTIQ people.