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Norway  
 
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Norway, officially known as the Kingdom of Norway, occupies the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and is bordered by Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It has a population of approximately 4.7 million. Oslo, the country's capital and largest city, is the center of Norwegian gay and lesbian life.

Since the mid-twentieth century, Norway has experienced rapid economic growth and has become one the world's most economically competitive countries, with a fully developed welfare system. Every year since 2001 it has been listed as the "Best Country" in the United Nations Human Development Report, based on life expectancy, adult literacy rate, education, and Gross Domestic Product.

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Norway, like most Scandinavian countries, is very liberal in regard to glbtq rights and Norwegians are broadly tolerant of homosexuals. In Norway, gay men and lesbians have the same legal status as heterosexuals. With the adoption of a new marriage law in 2008, Norway became the sixth country to permit homosexual to marry on the same basis as heterosexuals.

History

Norwegians descend from the Germanic tribes that settled in the Danish peninsula in the fourth century B.C.E. The Norsemen emerged as a European power when Norway's first ruler, Harald the Fairhaired, led the sacking of Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, in 793 C.E.

Norway embraced Christianity early in the eleventh century. As a result of the Kalmar Union of 1397, Norway and Sweden merged with Denmark under Danish rule. In 1814, Denmark, which had sided with France in the Napoleonic wars, was forced by the victors to cede Norway to Sweden. In 1815 Sweden acknowledged Norway's independence "in perpetual union with the Swedish crown." In 1905, however, Norway's legislature deposed Swedish King Oscar II and declared its independence, with Prince Charles of Denmark ruling as Haakon VII for fifty-two years.

Norway was neutral during World War I and declared its neutrality at the start of World War II, but was nevertheless occupied by German troops from 1940 to 1945.

A founding member of the United Nations, Norway joined the NATO alliance in 1949 and the European Union in 1994.

GLBTQ Rights In Norway

Although homosexual acts between men were illegal until 1972, homosexuals were seldom prosecuted, and a homosexual rights movement emerged (clandestinely) in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, homosexuality became more visible. Since then the Norwegian government has made a concerted effort to uphold gay and lesbian rights and to help homosexuals live openly and without discrimination.

In 1972, Section 213 of the country's Penal Code, which prohibited sexual acts between men (but not women), was repealed. Following the repeal, the age of consent was changed to 16 for both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

In 1981, Norway became the first country in the world to enact anti-discrimination laws protecting gay men and lesbians under both civil and criminal legislation. The laws prohibit differential treatment in the workplace and discrimination in the housing sector on the basis of sexual orientation. The Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud reviews complaints relating to violations of these provisions free of charge.

The Norwegian Penal Code also 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.

In 1983, the Public Health Council in Oslo established a center to provide counseling for homosexuals. This service was greatly expanded in response to the AIDS epidemic.

Although Scandinavia has pioneered in sexual reassignment surgery, Norway's government has provided less support for than it has for gay men and lesbians. Although Norwegian transsexuals over age 18 are offered professional assistance by a team of physicians and social workers in Oslo, the degree of pre- and post-surgical support is less than desired by many transsexuals. Little official support is offered children and adolescents who display variant gender behavior or identification.

Registered Partnerships

On August 1, 1993 the Registered Partnership Act was enacted, making Norway the second country in the world, after Denmark, to recognize same-sex civil unions officially.

The Partnership Act enabled two 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.

In recent years, there has been a strong movement by gay rights groups to repeal the provision against joint adoption by same-sex couples. Since 2002, registered partners have been able to adopt their partner's child. The same criteria that apply to stepchild adoption for heterosexual spouses apply to stepchild adoption for registered partners.

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