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Norway issues formal apology 50 years after decriminalising homosexuality

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By Euronews  with AFP
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store gestures during a press conference in Oslo.
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store gestures during a press conference in Oslo.   -   Copyright  Heiko Junge/NTB via AP, File

Norway's government has issued a formal apology for a historical law that criminalised homosexuality.

An estimated 119 men were convicted in Norway between 1902 and 1950 for having sex with other men under a paragraph of the country's penal code.

The law was eventually removed on 21 April 1972.

"Gay people have been treated as criminals and prosecuted by the Norwegian authorities," said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalised.

"The law had an important symbolic value and meant that homosexuals were exposed to multiple convictions, discrimination, slander and blackmail," the government added in a statement.

"Criminalising and prosecuting people for their love life, treating [medically] healthy people, depriving them of career and work opportunities are serious violations of our values."

LGBT+ activists have welcomed the official apology while calling for more measures to ban so-called gay conversion therapy in Norway.

Campaigners are also demanding recognition of a legal third gender and better access to care for transgender people.

"For many of us, it may be too little too late, we know that many people have lived and are living their lives marked by stigma," said Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of the Foreningen FRI association.

Norway was the second country in the world to legally acknowledged civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 1993. Same-sex marriages were also given equal status to heterosexual marriages in 2009.