Norway’s Ministry of Gender Equality: Rights can never be taken for granted – we need to support the LGBT+ community

LGBT flagPhoto: Mercedes Mehling / Unsplash

The recent Oslo shooting has shaken Norwegian society. The Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality says the developments in the overall social climate surrounding queer rights and events in recent years are worrisome.

In an e-mail to Norway Today, political adviser Oda Malmin at the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality stated that the attack during Oslo Pride was the worst possible outcome of hate and extremism.

“During Oslo Pride this year, Norway was subject to a brutal terror attack against innocent people, the worst possible outcome of hate and extremism. The Norwegian Police Security Service’s (PST) threat assessment has shown an increase in recent years in the threat from politically motivated violence and extremism, also towards LGBT+ people.

“Many queer people are harassed and threatened on a regular basis, and many people report they are afraid of being openly gay and/or expressing non-binary affection, in fear of hateful and violent reactions. Rainbow flags were reportedly burned or torn down in the past couple of years, and rainbow-painted public amenities were desecrated in several European countries. We also see a severe rise in anti-LGBT+ rhetoric from politicians and other leaders in many countries. This has fuelled a wave of violence, with anti-LGBT+ hate crime. 

“At the same time, there are connections between the anti-woman, anti-LGBT+, anti-gender, and anti-trans movements and these movements are becoming more and more visible in many countries, also in Norway. These are obviously very alarming developments,” Malmin told Norway Today in an e-mail.

Discrimination, harassment, and threats

Furthermore, the Ministry believes that this change in social and discursive climate is reflected in the day-to-day life of queer people in Norway. 

“Yes, without a doubt. Statistics Norway’s 2020 quality of life survey shows that 43% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people and people with other sexual orientations have experienced discrimination in the past year, compared to 20% of heterosexual people.

“Although recent studies also show an increased level of tolerance towards queer people in Norway, LGBT+ people still experience discrimination, harassment, threats, hate speech, and sometimes violence on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and sex characteristics. We’re especially concerned with the hostile attitudes towards transgender people.

“The quality of life for queer people is lower than that of the rest of the population, and they are more prone to drug abuse, financial problems, health issues, and suicide, among other things. This is obviously a huge problem, and it is our job as politicians and as a society to fight these inequalities and to better the quality of life for LHBT+ people,” Malmin pointed out.

She added that advances in human rights could not be taken for granted and that regular people need to stand up and fight for a culture of tolerance and mutual respect.

“Human rights, including LGBT+ rights, can never be taken for granted. We all have to stand up – every day – to defend our values and protect and support the LGBT+ community. 

“To fight discrimination and speak up against hate and discriminatory speech is a common responsibility, and each and every one of us should speak out if we see or hear these kinds of attitudes being voiced, be it at work, on public transport, or around the dinner table.”

New action plan for LGBT+ equality

At the same time, the Norwegian government is also working on addressing the problem by preparing a new action plan for LGBT+ equality, which should be ready by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. 

“The plan will focus on living conditions for transgender people, LGBT+ people from minority and religious backgrounds, and queer people in sports and culture.

“In addition, two days before the terror attack, we proposed a new law inhibiting the practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ where someone methodically aims to change a person’s sexual orientation, and we’ve started work to see if it’s possible to implement a third sex category in formal and legal terms. 

“The overall aim of the government’s LGBT+ work is to improve quality of life for LGBT+ people, secure LGBT+ rights, and work for increased accept for gender and sexual diversity,” Malmin concluded.

Robin-Ivan Capar is a contributor and editor at Norway Today.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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