Equal treatment and respect for gays and lesbians in Norway

The Norwegian Government makes an active effort to safeguard gay and lesbian rights, to help gays and lesbians to live openly and to counteract discrimination.
It is crucial to these efforts to ensure that organizations working to protect gay and lesbian rights have a funding framework that enables them to work constructively. The Norwegian Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation (LLH) works at the national level to enable lesbians, gays and bisexuals to lead their lives openly, without fear of ostracism, discrimination or persecution. The Government has increased state funds to the organization substantially. In 2006, NOK 2.9 million has been allocated.  These funds are to be used for rights-based, organizational development and information activities. Priority is given to young people and regional considerations, and support is provided to various local organizations. This funding will also make it possible for the organization to maintain its function as a watchdog. Additional funding is also provided for various measures relating to gays and lesbians.
The acquisition of knowledge about the everyday life of lesbian and gay people, and their history, is a key element in efforts to improve their living conditions. Earmarked allocations from the Ministry of Children and Equality to the Research Council of Norway from 2002-2004 were used to fund several research projects on issues related to being gay or lesbian. These projects will be conducted over a period of several years.
Blikk, Norway’s largest magazine for gays and lesbians, is published monthly and has a circulation of 6 000. The magazine receives state funding. In 2006, funding has also been provided for distribution of the magazine to all public libraries and to selected libraries at upper secondary schools in the largest urban centres.
Gays and lesbians are protected from discrimination under both civil and criminal legislation. The Act relating to worker protection and working environment prohibits differential treatment in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation, while housing legislation prohibits discrimination in the housing sector. The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud reviews complaints relating to violations of these provisions free of charge. The Penal Code prohibits discriminatory statements or the refusal to provide goods or services on the basis of a homosexual orientation or lifestyle. These provisions are enforced by the ordinary courts.
The Act relating to Registered Partnership entered into force on 1 August 1993. The Partnership Act enables two homosexual persons of the same sex to enter into a registered partnership with one another. A registered partnership has the same legal consequences as marriage, with the exception of the right to adopt children jointly. It is, however, possible for one of the registered partners to adopt the other partner’s child (stepchild adoption – see below).
To be able to register as partners, at least one of the parties must be a Norwegian citizen, and one or both of them must be resident in Norway. Citizenship of Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands qualifies on an equal footing with Norwegian citizenship. Foreign nationals who do not satisfy the citizenship criteria may register as partners in Norway if at least one of the parties has been resident in Norway during the two years prior to the registration.
A registered partnership contracted in Norway will not necessarily be recognized in another country. Even if another country bases a decision on Norwegian legislation, registered partners may find that they do not have the same status as a spouse abroad.
As from 1 January 2002, it became possible for registered partners to adopt the other partner’s child (stepchild adoption). This statutory amendment was introduced to ensure that children are provided with a safe, predictable legal framework during their childhood and adolescent years. The same criteria that apply to stepchild adoption for spouses apply to stepchild adoption for registered partners.
Stepchild adoption applies to the other partner’s biological child as well as to his or her adopted child, unless the adopted child comes from a country that does not permit lesbian or gay people to adopt children.
New regulations of 18 December 2003 relating to foster care stipulate which considerations concerning gays and lesbians apply when choosing foster homes for individual children. The regulations state that a foster home should comprise two foster parents of different genders. Same-sex couples may, however, be selected to serve as foster parents if the child welfare services find that this would be in the best interests of the child involved. This provision reflects the stipulation that first consideration must be devoted to the child’s needs. Anyone who wishes to contribute as a foster parent has the right to be evaluated. It is the individual’s ability as a caregiver and the needs of the specific child that are considered to be the crucial elements of this process, not a party’s sexual orientation or civil status.
By the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality