LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Norway becomes fourth country in Europe to introduce model of self-determination

Today is a turning point in the advocacy work of Norway’s trans activists – 6 June marks the final parliamentary vote on long-awaited updates to the legal gender recognition process. 

Now, trans people in Norway aged 16 and older will have their gender legally recognised without having to be sterilised first.

These reforms, based on the principle of self-determination, were originally proposed in April 2015 by an expert group. The Ministry of Health then produced a new healthcare bill, which was approved today by 79 votes to 13. Under the Ministry of Health’s legal revisions, trans people aged 16 and older can have their gender recognised without any compulsory requirements. Trans children and young people aged 6 – 15 can apply with their parents’ permission.

ILGA-Europe send our congratulations to the activists and the whole trans community in Norway on this major step forward.

“By introducing legal gender recognition based on self-determination, Norway is now following in the footsteps of several European countries, including Denmark, Malta and Ireland. This increasing trend towards safe and accessible recognition processes, and a model that empowers and advances the rights of trans people, is to be celebrated.” commented Joyce Hamilton, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board.

Brian Sheehan, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, continued “The Norwegian vote sends out a strong message to other European governments. Oppressive preconditions, such as medical interventions, psychiatric diagnosis or sterilisation, need to be consigned to history. The parliamentarians who voted in favour of self-determination today have set a strong example that their counterparts across the continent can follow.”

However, there is still work to be done. LGBTI activists in Norway have rightly pointed out that these self-determination reforms do not remove age limits or make any provision for non-binary adults and children. ILGA-Europe will continue to support our members and friends in Norway every step of the way in their fight for full equality.

Prior to the changes in the new healthcare bill, Norway scored poorly in the Legal Gender Recognition and Bodily Integrity section of our Rainbow Europe criteria, despite being 8th overall in our country ranking.