Ben HaywardNovember 13th
2020

In a move to strengthen its LGBTQ+ protection laws, Norway has banned hate speech against transgender and bisexual people.

Although legislation has been in place to protect homosexual people from hate speech since 1981, Norways lawmakers have now extended the laws to protect their trans and bisexual citizens as well. 

The extension was passed into law by the Norwegian parliament on November 10th, without the need for a vote as it received overwhelming support during its first reading.

Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Minister of Justice and Public Security, Monica Maeland, said: “Trans people are an exposed group when it comes to discrimination, harassment and violence.

“It is imperative that the protection against discrimination offered by the criminal legislation is adapted to the practical situations that arise.”

In practical terms, it means that the wording of the legislation has been updated to read ‘sexual orientation’ in place of ‘homosexual orientation’ and has added gender and gender identity or expression to the protected characteristics.

Anyone who is found guilty of hate speech in Norway can face a prison sentence of up to one year for comments made in private, or up to three years for comments made public, and anyone who is convicted of a violent crime found to be motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender expression will be given a harsher sentence.

The vice-president of the Association of Transgender People in Norway, says the new legislation is much needed after years of trans people missing out under the existing protections.

Birna Rorslett said: "I’m very relieved actually, because [the lack of protection] has been an eyesore for trans people for many, many years.”

Norway has long been considered to be one of the most liberal countries in Europe when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues.

Trans people have been legally allowed to change gender, without the requirement of a medical diagnosis since 2016, while adoption for same-sex couples, gay marriage, and assisted insemination treatments for lesbian couples have all been legal since 2009.

In spite of this, according to ILGA-Europe, an advocacy group for LGBT rights, the country has seen a recent rise in the number of anti-LGBTQ+ crimes being reported.

It’s hoped that the recent updates to the legislation will help with the ongoing clamp down against hate crime of all kinds. 

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