Today, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister of Culture and Equality Abid Raja, Minister of International Development Dag Inge Ulstein, and Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie presented the Norwegian Government's new action plan to promote the rights of LGBTIQ-people nationally and internationally.
Norway has come far in the recognition of the rights of LGBTIQ-people, but many countries still have a long way to go, despite considerable progress. This also applies to Norway. No person should experience harassment or violence due to their identity – not in the city and not in the countryside. All people must be safe where they live and be able to live openly as the person they are, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
‘It is more important than ever to stand up for the rights of LGBTIQ-people nationally and internationally. Many people live good lives, at the same time that several groups have very difficult living conditions. This is why the Norwegian Government is launching 46 measures today to improve the lives of LGBTIQ-people’, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
The Norwegian Government wants to work towards a society that is safe for everyone, with greater openness about gender and sexual diversity. The Norwegian Government also wants to intensify its work on the rights, living conditions, and quality of life of LGBTIQ-people in Norway. It is a matter of viewing a person as a whole, with all of their identities, through every phase of their life, and in all societal arenas. There is great diversity in the LGBTIQ population, which encompasses different groups and individuals whose situations and needs vary. All LGBTIQ-people must have the same opportunities to participate in society as all others.
No fewer than 13 Government ministers have signed the action plan, which covers key sectors of society like education, health and safety, working life, leisure, and international efforts.
‘We have established three objectives for the work:1) increased openness about gender and sexual diversity, 2) better living conditions and quality of life for LGBTIQ-people, and 3)
cooperation with and support to civil society. In order to achieve these objectives, we have specified 46 measures in five priority areas’, states Minister of Culture and Equality Abid Raja.
The five priority areas are:
- increased knowledge and research on LGBTIQ-people in Norway
- increased openness about gender and sexual diversity and equitable public services
- equal employment and safe local communities and public spaces
- conversion therapy
- continued international leadership
Conversion therapy is often referred to as actions or practices intended to make a person change, deny, or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy can be harmful and deprive a person of their liberty to live a full, good, and equal life. The Norwegian Government has therefore defined this as a separate priority area, and at present there are two measures attached to it. The first measure is a legal assessment of conversion therapy, a measure which was initiated in 2020. This work has resulted in a bill on regulation of conversion therapy which will soon be sent out for consultation.
The second measure in the action plan is related to development of knowledge in order to provide effective statutory regulation and efforts. A survey of the experiences of civil society with conversion therapy in Norway has revealed that such practices exist in this country. There is nonetheless a need for even more knowledge about this in order to target efforts most effectively. The Directorate of Children, Youth and Family Affairs will start a research project on conversion therapy in Norway, which will run from 2021 to 2022. This knowledge will provide a basis on which to assess other measures related to conversion therapy, and will be followed up by the Norwegian Government.
‘The Norwegian Government will soon send out a consultation memo which contains a proposal for a legal act to ban conversion therapy. This is a historic milestone; one I am proud to stand behind. A comprehensive public consultation will provide the best possible foundation for a bill regarding the right of LGBTIQ-people to be themselves’, says Mr Raja.
During the work with the new action plan, central and regional meetings were held with civil society organisations and other stakeholders in order to discuss issues, input was provided by a research forum, a reference group consisting of a broad range of members from the social partners was appointed, and there was consultation and a dialogue with the Sami Parliament. The action plan is intended to be dynamic, and will be adjusted through the application of new measures as needed when new knowledge is generated.