Norway has strengthened its LGBTQ+ protection laws by banning hate speech against transgender and bisexual people.
The country has had legislation in place to protect homosexual people from hate speech, dating back to 1981, however lawmakers have now extended the penal code to protect trans and bisexual people too.
The extension was backed by Norway’s parliament on Monday, November 10, without the need for a vote after it received overwhelming support during its first reading last week.
According to Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Maeland, 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,’ she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Now, the legislation has been amended to say ‘sexual orientation’ rather than ‘homosexual orientation’ to be inclusive of other sexualities, as well as adding gender and gender identity or expression to the protection law.
Anyone who is found guilty of hate speech can be punished with a fine or sentenced to up to a year in prison for comments made in private, or up to three years in prison for comments made in a public space.
In addition, anyone who is found guilty of a violent crime that’s motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender expression will be given a harsher sentence, in the clampdown against hate crimes.
Birna Rorslett, vice-president of the Association of Transgender People in Norway, has welcomed the new legislation after so many years of trans people being excluded from existing protections.
‘I’m very relieved actually, because [the lack of protection] has been an eyesore for trans people for many, many years,’ she said.
Even prior to this week’s legislation update, Norway was considered to be one of the most liberal countries in Europe in terms of LGBTQ+ issues.
Since 2016, trans people have been allowed to legally change gender, without the requirement of a medical diagnosis. Adoption for same-sex couples, gay marriage, and assisted insemination treatments for lesbian couples have all been legal since 2009.
Sadly, though, the country has seen a rise in the number of anti-LGBTQ+ crimes reported in the country, according to ILGA-Europe, an advocacy group for LGBT rights.
It’s hoped that the recent update in legislation will help in the clamp down against these crimes.
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Thompson Reuters Foundation
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