Sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of human rights

Lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LHBTI) people experience serious violations of their human rights throughout the world. They are excluded from educational institutions, the labour market and health services; they are subjected to harassment, violence, sexual assault and killings. LHBTI people are entitled to protection against discrimination and violence in the same way as everyone else.

The Government is seeking to ensure that the universal human rights that are already established, and the human rights commitments that states have already made, also extend to LGBTI people. Norway has been at the forefront of efforts to put this issue on the international agenda, in cooperation with countries from all regions of the world.

The issue of sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of human rights has attracted growing attention in international forums in recent years. The resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council creating the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2016 was a breakthrough. The UN mandate was renewed in 2019. The Independent Expert reports on human rights challenges both at country level and globally, and makes recommendations to the UN and UN member states.  

The Council of Europe has played a leading role in promoting international cooperation for protection of human rights for LGBTI people. In 2010, it adopted a recommendation to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the only negotiated intergovernmental instrument in this area. When Norway was chair of the European LGBTI governmental network in 2019, a declaration was adopted calling for renewed European commitment.

International efforts are carried out in close cooperation with local and international LGBTI organisations. Contact with human rights organisations is particularly crucial in acute situations in which LGBTI people are subjected to persecution or violence. Norway contributes significantly to the development of local LGBTI organisations through its human rights work, development cooperation and the EEA and Norway Grants.

Norway is a member of the Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental network formed to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. The coalition, which was launched in 2016 under the leadership of Uruguay and the Netherlands, has more than 40 member states from various regions. Only states can be members, but the coalition cooperates closely with international LHBTI organisations.

Norway’s priorities

  • work consistently and with a long-term perspective to promote the protection of LGBTI people, and ensure that their rights are protected in the same way as for everyone else;
  • promote universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and combat the discrimination of LGBTI people in legislation and in practice; and
  • contribute to awareness-raising efforts, particularly in the education and media sectors. 

Guidelines for the Foreign Service

External links