Gay Norway News & Reports 1999-2008

 1 Norway Bishops Join Sex Ed Class (1999)

2 Norwegian Church Approves Gay Adoption 2/01

3 Appointment of gay clergyman shakes Norway’s state church 6/00

4 Gay Asylum Seeker from Morocco Not Allowed to Stay 6/00

5 Study on Gay Youth Suicide (1995-2000)

6 Norway: Restaurant Turns Away Gay Customers 12/01

7 Norway Minister Marries Gay Partner and becomes PM (2 stories) 1/02

8 Kids with lesbian mums not bullied 6/03

9 Conservatives court homosexuals 7/03

10 Banning Gay Marriages-America Can Learn from Norway 8/03

11 Gay immigrants forced into marriage 8/03

13 Norway rejects same-sex marriage 11/04

14 Against Nature? – an exhibition on animal homosexuality 12/06

15 Lutherans ease ban on allowing gays in  partnerships to serve in clergy 11/07

16 Norwegian church lifts ban on partnered gay clergy 11/07

17 New bill proposes marriage rights for gay couples 3/08

18 Oslo demonstrators march against gay marriage law 4/08

19 Surprising transsexual aid 5/08

20 Tårer da ekteskapsloven ble vedtatt 6/08

21 Norway’s gay marriage law also grants new parental rights 6/08

22 Norway’s Muslim leaders urged to reach out to gays 9/08

1999 – Associated Press

Norway Bishops Join Sex Ed Class

Oslo – Norway’s 11 Lutheran bishops are headed back to school for a class that could shock some parishioners and amuse others: sex education. The leaders of the country’s Lutheran Church have to understand how modern and liberal Norwegians relate to sex. Homosexuality will be an important topic, since it has led to a bitter split among Norwegian Christians, church officials said Friday.

"We want to have more contact with the real world,” Odd Bondevik, head of the bishop’s council was quoted as telling the Oslo newspaper Verdens Gang. "The debate on homosexuality could easily become a war in the trenches. We need to see the homosexuality debate in a broader perspective.” The church has been split over whether homosexuals can hold religious posts. The debate flared last year when Norway’s only female bishop, Rosamarie Kohn, allowed lesbian clergywoman Siri Sunde to return to the pulpit even though she married a woman.

Gay partnerships are recognized as being virtually the same as marriages under Norwegian law. However, Sunde’s marriage violated a 1997 ruling by the church’s national congress that openly gay people are barred from ordained posts for theological reasons. The seminar will cover a broad range of sexual issues, not just homosexuality, Bondevik said. The bishops will hear experts discuss sex, family life and other issues in a series of three meetings under the title "Sexuality, life together, community,” due to start in December. The bishops unanimously supported the seminar series at their regular meeting this week. As Protestants, Lutheran clergy, including the bishops, are allowed to have heterosexual marriages.

16 February 2001 – Rainbow Network

Norwegian Church Approves Gay Adoption

The Church of Norway has approved adoption by gay men and lesbians The secretariat of the National Council of the Church of Norway has said that allowing same-sex couples to adopt children is a valid arrangement for the children, although they added that it was not ideal.

The church council, the Kirkeradet, said that despite the fact that they believed a family with same-sex parents was not the ideal, the love, security and stability that children might find within a gay family relationship was what mattered most. The decision puts the Kirkeradet in line with the government. Norway has plans to amend the laws regarding gay partnership registration and adoption. The proposed changes would enable a registered gay couple who already have a child to adopt more.

June 24, 2000 – Associated Press

Appointment of gay clergyman shakes Norway’s state church

by Doug Mellgren
Oslo – The selection of an openly gay clergyman in defiance of state Lutheran church guidelines raised concerns Friday that the issue of homosexuality could split the church. The Church of Norway’s highest body, its 85-member national congress, ruled in November 1997 that clergy who enter homosexual partnerships could not hold jobs that require ordination.

However, the Oslo Bishops’ Council of clergy and laity voted 4-3 on June 15 to appoint Jens Torstein Olsen as chaplain for the Majorstue Church. Olsen noted on his application that he was living with a gay partner. The council minority appealed the decision to Trond Giske, head of the churches and education ministry that formally employs state church clergy. He initially said he saw no reason to reverse the council majority’s decision, but will make a final decision next month.

If hired, the 51-year-old Olsen would be Norway’s first male minister who is openly living with a gay partner. Oslo Bishop Gunnar Staalsett said he expects the ministry to respect his council’s majority, in keeping with usual practice. ”Olsen is clearly the best qualified for the post,” Staalsett said. But the move prompted Norway’s head bishop, Odd Bondevik, to say he was calling an emergency meeting of the national bishops council on the matter, probably in August. ”The appointment … can split the Church of Norway,” he was quoted as telling the Norwegian news agency NTB.

”When we said the issue does not have to be a splitting factor, we assumed that each individual bishop would be loyal to the national church council’s resolutions and the church itself,” Bondevik was quoted as saying. An anguished debate over gay clergy has already led to bitter disputes within the church. Last year, Norway’s only female bishop, Rosmarie Kohn, faced a revolt by nearly one-third of her own clergy when she allowed openly lesbian Siri Sunde to return to the pulpit. Sunde had been barred after she married her female companion. Gay marriages are legal in Norway, with all the rights of heterosexual marriages except church weddings and the right to adopt.

June 15, 2000 – Aftenposten, Oslo Norway

Gay Asylum Seeker from Morocco Not Allowed to Stay

by Kvore M. Hansen
A 25-year-old man has shown in his application for asylum that homosexuality is punished in Morocco and that he should be allowed to stay in Norway for that reason. But his application was rejected by foreign service officials. Now the City of Oslo has become an interested party in the matter. In a new suit, it is maintained that the man’s sexual orientation cannot be considered pertinent because he did not risk persecution in his homeland.
The Moroccan was arrested by Oslo police in 1998, suspected of overstaying his visa. He had shown a fake Spanish passport to the police. Already in his first hearing he said that he was homosexual. He said that he had told his very religious father, who immediately demanded that he get married to his cousin. If he did not, his father would go to the police. In Morocco, a Muslim country, homosexuality is forbidden and can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years.

The 25-year-old chose a third option. He fled, first to Spain, then to Belgium and Norway.

Final decision?
The man said in his asylum application that he has a lover in Norway. And his father’s rage has not abated after he found out that his son is living his orientation in a western country. But Norwegian authorities feel that this reasoning cannot be given weight when it applies to questions of asylum. In November of last year, the Justice Department decided to uphold the earlier decision in the matter – to deny the Moroccan asylum and deport him.

Now the City of Oslo has brought the matter to an end, after the man and his advocate, attorney Georg Panzer, filed an appeal. A new judgment says that the court does not find it likely that the man risks imprisonment if he is sent back to Morocco. The court was skeptical about several matters in the 25-year-old’s statement. The court insisted also that it will not be a big problem for him to hide from his father in his homeland. Morocco is a relatively large country with many cities and 30 million residents.

The Oslo government concludes that the Moroccan asylum seeker has used up all his appeals. The court does not believe that there are grounds for setting aside the Justice Department decision of November 25, 1999, the judgment says. Therefore the Moroccan must leave the country. The man had originally asked for 10,000 kroner in travel expenses from the state. Instead he must now come up with 8,000 kroner in court costs.

[Translated from the Norwegian by Aleta Fenceroy,]


Study on Gay Youth Suicide

Background Information on Possible GLB suicide Problems in Norway: 1995-1999.

Norway’s possible gay and lesbian youth suicide problems was first described in 1995 and first reported in Update 1996 to the book, ‘The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Factor in the Youth Suicide Problem’ (1993, 1994, 1996). In the "Europe" web page related to GLB suicide problems, the following had been written: In 1995, at Calgary’s Gay Lines, a young gay Norwegian man working for a Swedish telephone manufacturer said that he had been involved with a GLB youth group in Oslo. He reported homophobia to be a problem as serious in Norway as it was in North America, that coming out problems were similar, and that a significant GLB youth suicide problems existed in his country.
This situation was collaborated by Marte Nathalie in a Web Page titled "Homosexuality" written by her in 1999. She reported:

A statistic bureau in Norway recently released a study on the life-quality among young people that love someone from the same sex. The results are shocking. One out of four had tried to commit suicide! Half of the people asked didn’t dare to tell even their closest friends that they were gay. Many had gone through tough times with their families, some had even been thrown out on the streets when they told they were gay.

On the Internet, notice of a paper exploring the potential GLB suicide problem in Norway had become available, but only the abstract was made available. The following was written in this respect: The possible GLB suicide problem in Norway was addressed (possibly for the first time in 1997) via the paper "The need for developing strategies for suicide prevention among young lesbian women and gay men: empirical and theoretical rationales written on the subject." The paper’s abstract is available online – via the Internet Journal of Health Promotion. Authors: Asle Offerdal, Hans Tanksgate and Norman Anderssen (Bergen).

The Paper was presented at the Conference on the Status of Nordic Health Promotion Research: Progress during the Decade after the Ottawa Charter. In 1998 / 1999, Prof. Richard Ramsay (Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary) was asked if he would communicate a request for relevant information to some Norwegian contacts he knew in the field of suicidology. By August 2000, however, a contact had been made with Arne Gronningseter via Professor Ramsay and the following information on gay and lesbian suicide problem in Norway was made available.

Initially, in an email, Arne Gronningseter summarized the situation related to GLB suicide problems in Norway: The issue of suicide among gay and lesbian youths is quite high on the public agenda for the moment. The reason is that a survey has shown that among young homosexuals there is an overrepresentation of people who have tried to commit suicide. Just a few months ago, one of the main TV channels showed a documentary about a 20-year-old and very religious boy who committed suicide. This film was seen by very many viewers and increased the public attention for these issues. Discussions are now occurring with bishops and church leaders about these issues.

This was followed by noting that information related to the NOVA study of gay and lesbian Norwegian individuals was available at their Web Site: . He offered to translate some relevant information which is given in the next section.

24 December 2001 – U.K.

Norway: Restaurant Turns Away Gay Customers

Outrage exploded amongst Norwegian gay groups today after a restaurant owner decided to ban gay customers. Thomas Watering, manager of the Phileas Fogg restaurant in Arendal, said the presence of a local gay group who have used the eatery’s second floor as a meeting place for years, was losing him customers. "I’m just trying to run a business here. When some of my biggest customers say they won’t come to the restaurant anymore because of its gay reputation, I have to react," said Watering who has been accused of discrimination by Norwegian gay campaigners.

Watering says the open display of homosexual behaviour by the gay group forced him to start refusing their custom. "Several times I’ve had to ask gay men to take their necking outside, just as I would with heterosexuals who were doing the same," claimed Watering. Norway’s National Association for Lesbians and Gays reacted angrily to the action, condemning Watering of discrimination and rejecting his claims of the local group behaving unreasonably.

January 15, 2002 – Associated Press

Norway Minister Marries Gay Partner and becomes PM (2 stories)

Oslo – Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss has married his gay companion, becoming the first member of a Norwegian government to enter a binding homosexual partnership. Under a 1993 law, gays and lesbians can enter legal partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage, except adoption and church weddings. Foss, a Conservative, married long-term partner Jan Erik Knarbakk in a ceremony at the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. The Norwegian Finance Ministry confirmed the wedding but said Foss was giving no interviews or comment because it is a personal matter.

"Yes, we entered a partnership at the embassy in Stockholm on Friday, Jan. 4,” Foss told the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. "But beyond that, it is a private matter.” Knarbakk is a top manager in the Schibsted publishing concern and the two have been described in the news media as being among Norway’s most powerful couples.

Foss is a member of a three-party coalition government led by Lutheran clergyman Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democratic party, which opposes homosexual marriages. However, Foss was openly gay and living with his partner when he joined the government and it was not an issue in his appointment to the powerful post of finance minister. Norwegians are broadly tolerant of homosexuals and traditionally respect the private lives of public figures so the wedding was simply noted briefly, without comment, by the news media. About 100 couples a year enter gay partnerships in the capital city of Oslo.


January 25, 2002 – Reuters

Norwegian gay minister makes history as acting PM

by Inger Sethov
Oslo – Norwegian Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss, who wed his gay partner this month, claimed a new breakthrough on Friday for homosexual rights by becoming the first married homosexual to head a government – even though it was just in an acting capacity. In an audience with King Harald, Foss was installed as Norway’s acting prime minister while Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was on a trip to South Korea, and Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, who would normally stand-in was also out of the country in Spain. "I think that this, perhaps, can have a small impact on the discussion (of gay rights) also in other countries," Foss told Reuters on the doorsteps of the premier’s office where he hosted a lunch for parliamentarians after the meeting with King Harald.

Foss, 52, a long-time parliamentarian for the Conservative Party, made headlines around ther world this month when he registered his marriage to Jan Erik Knarbakk, a director of Norwegian media group Schibsted ASA. "I see that many newspapers are writing about it and that’s nice, but I don’t think about it that much. I have a job to do, and I’m doing my job regardless of partnership or not," he said. Norway, whose reputation as a liberal nation was highlighted last year when Crown Prince Haakon married Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, a single mother, was the world’s second country after Denmark to allow homosexual marriages.

Under the 1993 law, gay couples have the same legal rights as heterosexuals, except they can only adopt children under very rare circumstances. In recent years, about 150 gay couples a year have registered partnership in Norway. Foss tops a list of European gay politicans, which includes the mayors of Berlin and Paris. "It’s great to see that we have come this far," said Torgeir Einum, vice president of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Rights in Norway. "The way Foss is setting milestones, we are spending our entire gift budget on greeting cards and flowers."

He said Foss, with his conventional dark suit-and-tie style, contributed to the acceptance of homosexuals around the world. "He is the serious politician that grandmothers and old aunts like and respect. Foss is so normal that he makes homosexuality completely harmless," Einum said. There was an irony in Foss deputising for Bondevik. The prime minister is a priest in the state Lutheran church – which bars homosexual priests – and Bondevik’s Christian People’s Party voted against the partnership law.

26 June 2003 – U.K

Kids with lesbian mums not bullied

A survey carried out in Norway has shown that children with gay parents do not suffer more bullying because of their parents’ sexual orientation. Researcher Sigrun Saur Stiklestad has completed her master’s degree about children whose mothers are lesbian. 9 young people, aged between 13 and 25, were interviewed for the thesis and the findings even surprised Ms Stiklestad, "None of the kids I interviewed had been bullied at school. One of the boys had experienced some commentary from one of the other boys in his class on one occasion and this was the only time any of them had been subjected to negative reaction," she told Nettavisen. Encouraging findings, but might they not be more to do with Norway’s renowned tolerance than anything else?

30 July 2003 – Aftenposten

Conservatives court homosexuals

Oslo’s council leader Erling Lae is spearheading a Conservative Party initiative to court the homosexual vote. The party has a number of central politicians who are openly homosexual, and were the only party with a direct message to this voter segment, newspaper Dagsavisen reports. The Conservatives have a web page devoted to their homosexual policies, and support equal opportunity for gay couples seeking to adopt children. Council leader Lae marched in Oslo’s Skeive Dager (Bent Days) parade in June and has contributed money to getting the gay festival Europride to Norway’s capital.

The party’s main hobbyhorse is better information, to help homosexuals ‘come out’, and deal with conflicts. Norway’s Minister of Finance, Per-Kristian Foss, made international headlines when he became the first cabinet minister to enter into a homosexual partnership last year. Two Conservative MPs have come out of the closet, and in the Oslo council four of their 19 representatives are openly homosexual. "It is easier to be homosexual in the Conservative Party than in other parties. I think it is due to the party’s emphasis on the right of the individual to make his own choices, instead of the conformity thinking you find on the political left," Oslo councilor Helge L’Orange told Dagsavisen. Lae would not criticize how other parties handle the homosexuality issue. "I don’t think the difference in policy is so great. But one can ask why homosexuals do not stand out in other parties. Perhaps there is an invisible discrimination," Lae said.

1 August 2003

Banning Gay Marriages: America Can Learn from Norway

Norwegian politicians are shocked that President Bush is opposing homosexual marriages and think the President should look to Norway, where several prominent politicians are openly gay and experiences with homosexual marriages are positive.

Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the socialist left-wing party SV, is shocked that President Bush is opposing homosexual marriages, as the attitude towards homosexuality is completely different in Norway. Norway legalised homosexual marriages 13 years ago. Gay Minister of Finance Even the Norwegian Conservative Party, who is strongly represented in government, has a number of prominent members who are openly homosexual, amongst them Minister of Finance, Per-Kristian Foss. At the same time, the present Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, is a trained priest from the Christian Democratic Party.

Kristin Halvorsen now encourages the leader of the Norwegian Conservative party to have words with Mr. Bush: "I urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Petersen, to bring the matter up with American authorities. He can tell them about Norway’s positive experiences with letting homosexual couples get married the same way heterosexual couples can", she said. Halvorsen sees Norway as a pioneer when it comes to homosexuals’ rights: "Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize homosexual marriages in 1989 and Norway followed two years later", she said.

Homosexual top leaders Halvorsen is proud that Norway has a number of homosexual political top leaders: "Our Minister of Finance is gay and a number of members of parliament are as well. I really thought we had come a long way when Per-Kristian Foss was made Minister of Finance after being open about his homosexuality in 2001", said Halvorsen. Bush should learn from Norway Asked if she thinks Petersen could have an influence on Bush on this matter, she said: "Yes. The American President definitely has a lot to learn from Norway. In 1972 being gay was illegal in Norway.

Today our Minister of Finance is married to his male partner." In the US each state decides whether homosexuals can marry. In Europe, 10 countries have legalised homosexual marriages. The ten countries are France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, England, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Croatia. In certain areas of Spain and Switzerland homosexual marriages are legalised, according to AFP.

August 15, 2003 – Nettavisen,
Sentrum,Oslo Norway

Gay immigrants forced into marriage

by Hanne Dankertsen
Homosexual and lesbian immigrants are at high risk of being forced into arranged marriages, according to a new Norwegian survey. The survey will be presented to the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development on Friday, Aftenposten reports. Stronger pressure In some of the foreign communities in Norway today, it is unthinkable that a young man or woman is not to get married and have children. To homosexual and lesbian immigrants the pressure to marry a person of the opposite sex is considerably stronger than the pressure Norwegian homosexuals feel. More psychological problems This particular group of immigrants has a high frequency of psychological problems and suicide attempts. The Norwegian government is to consider what the consequences of the new survey will be.

19 November 2003 – Aftenposten, Oslo Norway

Church flies gay flag

by Jonathan Tisdall, Aftenposten English Web Desk
Churches in North-Norway guarantee homosexuals that they will be welcomed without prejudice. The parishes of Svolvaer and Vagan promise that no negative words can be uttered towards gay churchgoers in their churches, a promise that is bound not to please everyone. In Svolvaer Church parish council member Yngve Henriksen hangs the rainbow colored flag used as homosexuality’s banner. The flag is meant to show gays and lesbians that they are welcome here and can worship without fear of finding themselves the subject of a fiery sermon, newspaper Lofotposten reports.

The two parish councils voted to do something to fight negative attitudes towards homosexuals. "The church has a sad history in that respect," parish educator Torbjoern Ollestad told the newspaper. Vagan Church was quick to fly the welcoming banner. Svolvaer debated the issue for over a year before an 8-2 majority raised the flag. Acting rector Gisle Melling pointed out that the decision will affect all who speak in the churches.

"Everyone must respect the council’s decision. This flag clearly states that no attacks on homosexuals will be accepted here. People who have other viewpoints must simply remain silent. That applies to priests as well," Melling said. The clergyfolk and council members stressed that the flag also symbolized a positive attitude towards homosexual clergy, including those that wish to live in partnership. Svein Tennes, leader of Svolvaer’s parish council doesn’t think the flag-waving is a good idea, and expects many parishioners will react.

"I do not think this will help the homosexual cause. There are strong feelings about this in the congregation, and I don’t think the flag is a good idea," Tennes said. Tennes said the gesture would only cause confusion since the clergy should tend to the interests of the entire congregation, without granting any special treatment and wondered if the door had been opened to demands for a flag for any group with a grievance.

November 29, 2004 – International News #553 by Rex Wockner

Norway rejects same-sex marriage

Norway’s parliament Nov. 18 rejected a bill to make the nation’s marriage law gender-neutral.
Norway already offers gay registered partnerships that grant every right of marriage except access to adoption.
The bill was opposed by Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s Christian Democratic Party and by right-wing parliamentarians.

December 2006 – University of Oslo

Against Nature? – an exhibition on animal homosexuality

On Thursday October 12 2006 The Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, opened the first-ever museum exhibition dedicated to gay animals. Today we know that homosexuality is a common and widespread phenomenon in the animal world. Not only short-lived sexual relationships, but even long-lasting partnerships; partnerships that may last a lifetime.

The exhibit puts on display a small selection among the more than 1500 species where homosexuality have been observed. This fascinating story of the animals’ secret life is told by means of models, photos, texts and specimens. The visitor will be confronted with all sorts of creatures from tiny insects to enormous spermwhales. How can we know that an animal is homosexual? How can homosexual behaviour be consistent with what we have learned about evolution and darwinism?

Sadly, most museums have no traditions for airing difficult, concealed, and possibly controversial questions. Homosexuality is certainly such a question. We feel confident that a greater understanding of how extensive and common this behaviour is among animals, will help to de-mystify homosexuality among people. – At least, we hope to reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature. The exhibition has received financial supported from the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority (

The exhibit will run to August 19 2007.

November 16, 2007 – International Herald Tribune

Norway’s Lutherans ease ban on allowing those in gay partnerships to serve in clergy

Oslo, Norway (AP) – Norway’s state Lutheran church on Friday lifted an outright ban on allowing those living in homosexual partnerships to serve in the clergy, but will leave it up to each bishop to make individual decisions on whether to employ them. The compromise decision reflected the realization that the church may have to live with a deep split over the issue. After an anguished week of debate at its annual meeting, the church’s 86-member governing synod voted 50-34 to make the change. Two members abstained. The meeting, which ended Friday, was held in the town of Lillehammer.

The decision means that six of Norway’s 11 bishops are likely to open the pulpit to gay clergy in partnerships. In a vote earlier in the year, those six bishops voted in favor of easing the ban. The church already allows gays to serve in the clergy as long as they are not living in a homosexual partnership. Friday’s vote prompted mixed reaction on whether it would settle the emotional debate.

"This will create peace in the church, and security for homosexual clergy," Marit Tingelstad, head of the Bishop’s Council for southeastern Norway’s Hamar district, said on the state radio network NRK. Bishop Ole D. Hagesaeter, of the Bjoergvin district, said, "This is a sad day for the church. It will be a splitting factor and lead to many feeling homeless in the church." The synod’s vote was a compromise revision of a 1997 resolution by the highest body in Norway’s state Protestant church that barred all clergy who enter homosexual partnerships from holding consecrated jobs.

Under Norwegian law, people in gay partnerships have the same rights as those in heterosexual marriages, apart from church weddings and adoption. The church, with nearly 85 percent of Norway’s 4.7 million people as members, has remained locked in a heated debate on the topic. Opponents of gay clergy believe homosexuality is contrary to Biblical teachings, while proponents say a modern church should be open to all faithful, regardless of sexual orientation.

"Finally, I can get rid of the feeling of having a B-team membership in the church," gay church member Arne Groenningsaeter was quoted as telling the Norwegian news agency NTB. Some gay clergy already serve in parochial posts. In 1999, Norway’s first female bishop, Rosamarie Kohn, now retired, faced an uprising by some of her own clergy by allowing lesbian clergywoman Siri Sunde to return to the pulpit even though she married a woman.

In 2000, the Norwegian government, which formally employs all state church staff, upheld the appointment of Jens Torstein Olsen as a clergyman in Oslo, even though he lived with a gay partner in violation of the 1997 church decision. Varying practices in 11 bishops’ districts could trigger lawsuits on whether different employment practices in the same organization violate anti-discrimination and labor laws.

"This is food for the Supreme Count," said synod delegate Hans Petter Jahre, a special legal adviser to the national prosecutor.

23rd November 2007 – PinkNews

Norwegian church lifts ban on partnered gay clergy

by Steve Leng
The Lutheran church of Norway has lifted an outright ban on clergy in same-sex relationships. However, it will allow each bishop to decide whether or not to employ them. The decision comes after a week of debate at the churches annual meeting, with the 86 member governing synod voting 50 to 34 to change the rules.

Marit Tingelstad, head of the Bishop’s Council for Norway’s Hamar distric said on state radio network NRK: "This will create peace in the church, and securing for homosexual clergy." However not all church members are pleased with the decision. Bishop Ole D. Hagesaeter, of the Bjoergvin district, said, "This is a sad day for the church. It will be a splitting factor and lead to many feeling homeless in the church." Under Norwegian law, gay couples have rights comparable to those of married heterosexuals, apart from church weddings and adoption. The church counts nearly 85 percent of Norway’s 4.7 million people as members.

15 March 2008 – The Norway Post

New bill proposes marriage rights for gay couples

by Rolleiv Solholm
Minister of Children and Equality Anniken Huitfeldt has presented a proposal for a new, comprehensive marriage act. The proposal is for a single marriage law covering both same-sex and male-female couples.

The proposed act would ensure that:
– Homosexual couples may be evaluated as prospective adoptive parents on an equal basis with heterosexual couples.

– Lesbian spouses and cohabitants have the same access to assisted fertilization as heterosexual couples and cohabitants.

– after birth through assisted fertilization, parental authority is granted automatically to non-biological mothers in lesbian marriages, consistent with the authority granted to heterosexual couples.

The proposed act would also open the way for church and faith communities to have the right – though not the obligation – to consecrate lesbian and homosexual relationships. Minister Huitfeldt (Labour), called the proposed law "an historic step towards equality." She said the aim of the proposed law is to show that homosexual and heterosexual couples are equal under the law. Norway already has what is called a "partnership law" which has allowed homosexuals to form legal civil partnerships. The Norwegian State Church and free church organizations are critical to the new bill in the form it has been presented, but it is expected that the new law will pass Parliament (Stortinget) before the summer.

April 14, 2008 – Edge Boston, MA

Oslo demonstrators march against gay marriage law

Hundreds of demonstrators from all over Norway descended on downtown Oslo over the weekend to protest the government’s proposed law allowing same-sex marriages. The protesters included immigrants and native Norwegians, and they came from the villages and the cities. All were firmly against marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Former Bishop Per Lønning was among those speaking in the public square called Youngstorget in downtown Oslo. Supporters have called the proposed "sex-neutral" marriage rights "a victory for romance and reason." Lønning equated that to nonsense "typical of our times."

A wide range of religious groups, from Muslims to Christians, took part in the demonstration, which began with a parade along Karl Johans Gate from the city’s old university complex to the square. Muslims were called on to participate by the local islamic Council, which also has harshly criticized the gay marriage bill. Demonstrators shouted "’Yes’ to marriage between men and women" along the route, and were ultimately met by counter-demonstrators from gay-rights groups. They tried to drown out speakers as they held their appeals.

May 2008 –

Surprising transsexual aid

Norway’s Christian Democrat Party continues their support for transsexuals, in contrast to the conservative image of party leader Dagfinn Høybråten. Norwegian health authorities have decided to drop financial support for the National organization for the diagnosis transsexualism (LFTS) which the group says is essential. After a meeting with representatives for the transsexuals on Tuesday, Høybråten has sent a letter to Health Minister Sylvia Brustad asking that she restore LFTS support to current levels.

"The organization does an important job for equality both for transsexuals and their families – children and parents. This is a small but extremely vulnerable group," Høybråten told newspaper VG. The LFTS first made four written appeals to the Health and Care Ministry without getting a reply from Brustad, and now hope that the Christian Democrats can make an impact. The Ministry has yet to issue an explanation of why they wish to cut the group’s funding. When Høybråten was Minister of Health in a previous government he halted plans to scrap a national treatment group for the treatment of transsexuals, and secured the LFTS funding through increased aid for mental health. We hope Høybråten can help again," said LFTS leader Tone Maria Hansen, who said that they could not maintain their office and activities without financial support. The LFTS has 120 members.

11 June 2008 –

Tårer da ekteskapsloven ble vedtatt

Av Dennis Ravndal, Gjermund Glesnes og Øystein Eian
Stortinget (VG Nett) André Oktay Dahl (H) måtte kjempe mot tårene da Odelstinget i dag vedtok de vesentligste delene i forslaget til ny ekteskapslov. Også Kim Friele gleder seg over loven.
Vedtaket ble møtt med jubel fra galleriet på Stortinget.

Og da VG Nett møtte Høyre-representanten André Oktay Dahl i vrimlerommet utenfor Stortingssalen rett etter endt avstemming, begynte han intervjuet med å tørke bort en tåre.

– Jeg hadde ikke trodd det, men det ble veldig sterkt for meg der inne. Det er første gang jeg har sittet der inne og virkelig vært rørt. Endel av dette har jeg opplevd selv, sier Oktay Dahl – som selv inngikk partnerskap i fjor. Nå venter han med glede på å få brevet som omgjør partnerskapet til ekteskap.

I selve stortingssalen gikk André Oktay Dahl med briller – for å skjule tårene. For de var mange, sier han.

Håper flere står frem

– Når vi nå fjerner forskjellsbehandlingen i Stortinget, er det mitt håp at flere vil stå frem med sin legning, sier barne- og likestillingsminister Anniken Huitfelt til TV2 Nyhetskanalen.

VGTV:- Loven fratar barn retten til en far

Stortinget har også vedtatt at lesbiske par får rett til assistert befruktning.
Stemmefordelingen var 84-41 når det gjelder selve ekteskapsloven. Det eneste lille nederlaget for regjeringen, var at høyresiden fikk flertall for at sæddonator må være kjent ved kunstig befruktning.

– Det var ikke viktig. Vi fikk gjennomslag for alle hovedsakene, sier Inga Marte Thorkildsen (SV), som sier at hun er stolt og rørt etter vedtaket.

– Jeg føler at jeg har vært med på å forandre verden i dag, sier hun.

– Overrasker ingen

– Frp og KrF overrasker ingen, særlig ikke vi som har vært et halvt hundreår på dette huset og rekt som grå katter. Vi har hørt det før, sier Kim Friele, som har kjempet aktivt for homofiles rettigheter siden 60-tallet.

Hun var glad for den nye ekteskapsloven, som gjør at hun og Wenche Lowzow nå kan gjøre om sitt partnerskap til ekteskap.

– Alle trinnene fra avkriminalisering og opp har vært historiske, men dette er toppen av kransekaken, sier Lowzow.
Harde fronter

Debatten om ekteskapsloven fortsatte så lenge at Odelstinget måtte ta en pause og fortsette klokka 18.00 i dag. I løpet av pausen hadde imidlertid så mange trukket seg fra talelisten at loven gikk til avstemming allerede etter et lite innlegg fra Odd Einar Dørum (V).

Det var særlig spørsmålet om barns rettigheter som satte følelsene i sving. Finansminister og SV-leder Kristin Halvorsen anbefalte Fremskrittspartiets hovedtaler Ulf Erik Knudsen om å ta et «oppgjør med sine egne fordommer».

Hva mener du?Diskutér ekteskapsloven her!

Knudsen hevdet at forskning viser at lesbiske og homofile forhold er mindre stabile enn heterofile forhold og at det forekommer mer vold i homofile og lesbiske forhold. Frp mente også at forslaget om at lesbiske som lever i stabile parforhold skal ha rett til assistert befruktning, er i strid med FNs barnekonvensjon.

– Det bør være grenser for hva det skal være tillatt å si fra Stortingets talerstol og for å spre myter. Det som er fakta er at barn som i lesbiske og homofile forhold har like gode oppvekstvilkår som andre barn. Det som eventuelt plager dem er fordommer, og det synes jeg Knudsen skulle jobbe med, sa Halvorsen.

BLOGG:11. juni 2008. Dagen da diskrimineringen tok slutt! (

Ser bort fra barna
KrF og Frp gikk hardt ut mot forslaget om assistert befruktning og hevdet at det fullstendig ser bort fra barnas rettigheter til å få vite hvem som er deres biologiske opphav.

Regjeringen foreslår at lesbiske skal få assistert befruktning i Norge og at barnet skal ha rett til å få vite om hvem faren er når det fyller 18 år. I dag kan slik befruktning foretas blant annet i Danmark, men med ukjent donor.

Hovedbudskapet til KrF og Frp var at barn har rett til å ha en far og en mor.
Loven er en grunnleggende forandring for ekteskapet og rammene for barns beste. Loven handler om voksnes rettigheter, ikke barns beste, sa Bjørg Tørresdal (KrF).

– Det endrer grunnleggende forholdet mellom mor, far og barn. Det dreier seg om homofile og lesbiskes rettigheter, barna er det ikke så nøye med, hevdet Ulf Erik Knudsen (Frp)
Han fulgte opp med å si at far blir redusert til en sædcelle i en sædbank.

June 12, 2008 – PinkNews

Norway’s gay marriage law also grants new parental rights

by Sophie Picheta
New legislation on same-sex marriage approved by the Norwegian parliament yesterday also extends parenting rights for gay and lesbian couples. The new law will amend the definition of civil marriage in Norway to make it gender neutral. It will replace a 1993 law that gave same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions. Couples with a pre-registered civil partnership will be able to convert it into marriage. The new legislation also increases parental rights, and makes it easier for lesbians to undergo the same in vitro fertilisation treatment available to heterosexual couples.

A lesbian who is married to another women who becomes pregnant through IVF will have all the rights of parenthood "from the moment of conception." In cases of adoption, both partners, gay or lesbian, would have complete joint parenting rights. Anniken Huifeldt, the minister for Family Issues, called the bill an historic step towards equality. The law was backed by the Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party. Some members of the Conservatives and Liberals also voted for the law. However, the law was criticised and voted against by opposition Christian Democrats and the Progress Party.

Dagfinn Hoybraten, leader of the Christian Democrat party, called the bill "a big experiment." He stated that while his party was against discrimination, it wanted to protect the rights of children. "We are now creating a system where the father is reduced to a sperm sample," said Ulf Erik Knudsen, a member of the far-right, reports AFP.

Under the new legislation, the Church of Norway will also be allowed (but not compelled) to bless same-sex marriages. About 85 percent of Norway’s 4.7 million people are registered as members of the state Lutheran Church of Norway, although far fewer are active. Norway joins Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada in granting gay people full marriage rights.

September 1, 2008 – PinkNews

Norway’s Muslim leaders urged to reach out to gays

by Jamie Skey
The Islamic Council of Norway has asked imams to listen to the country’s gays. The Council do not want homosexuals, Muslim or not, to be in the closet. Last week the Islamic Council of Norway’s met with SV’s homo-network, where they spoke of homosexual Muslims in Norway. This is the first time the Islamic Council met with homosexual representatives to debate on this issue.

"They live in Norway, a democratic country, and they are free to come out," said Senaid Kobilica of the Islamic council. He stressed that nobody should live in fear and points to violent incidents where homosexuals were beaten due to the sexual inclination. "Most of all they need somebody to speak with. Imams must therefore be open to listen to homosexual Muslims."

"We recommend that everybody respect homosexuals and lesbians", said Mr Kobilica. However, the head of the Islamic Council, thinks it’s incompatible to be a homosexual and a believing Muslim. "The imams should listen to homosexuals and to their concerns. But naturally we will also inform them about Islamic thought and how it relates to homosexuality," he said.

In August the Children and Equality Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, criticised the Islamic Council for not rejecting the death sentence against homosexuals. "We stress that the Islamic Council of Norway rejects the death sentence for homosexuals in Norway, but we don’t want to go into legislation in other countries," said Mr Kobilica. The Islamic Council is an umbrella organisation for the Islamic faith societies that represents 70,00 Norwegian Muslims.