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Nordic cooperation to secure equality for LGBTI people

Nordic cooperation to secure equality for LGBTI people

| Text: Marie Preisler

Children, young people and seniors are important priority groups for equality ministers’ cooperation on LGBTI rights.

When an LGBTI person moves from one Nordic country to another to work or live, it might be challenging to have your gender or family composition recognised. This is one of many limitations that LGBTI people meet in the Nordics, and the countries’ equality ministers have signed up to cooperate on solutions. 

In 2020, the Nordic countries’ equality ministers expanded their equality cooperation to include LGBTI people – meaning homo-, bi-, trans- and intersexual people. The aim is to secure that this group of people enjoy the same rights, treatment and opportunities as other Nordic citizens.

An amendment to the equality ministers’ general program of cooperation identifies three strategic areas that they will work on in 2021 and 2022 to secure real equality for LGBTI people:

  • Greater freedom and openness for LGBTI people
  • Improved quality of life and living conditions
  • A strengthened Nordic network and civil society for LGBTI affairs

Children and young people hardest hit

The Nordic countries have pledged to cooperate on concrete initiatives linked to each of the three areas of cooperation. One central task will be to make sure experiences and knowledge of good solutions are shared. 

Some of the work will be targeted at LGBTI children and young people since this is a group that is especially vulnerable to loneliness, bullying and exclusion, accordion to the report “Mapping and analysis of the LGBTI field in the Nordic region”. The programme for cooperation is based on this report. 

The cooperation between the countries will therefore also highlight good examples of how schools and education institutions can help create inclusive learning environments devoid of bullying and harassment. LGBTI children and youngsters and children in rainbow families should also be able to participate in clubs and social networks on an equal level with everyone else.

Inequality in health and at work

There will also be a joint Nordic drive to reduce the marked differences between LGBTI people and others when it comes to physical and psychological health. There is a higher rate of drug use, self-harm and suicide among LGBTI people, as well as higher levels of stress compared to other Nordic population groups. In order to reduce health differences, health services must be informed about the particular challenges that LGBTI people experience in order to provide the best possible treatment and advice, the programme states.     

Nordic equality ministers will also work across the Nordic labour markets to share knowledge and experience of LGBTI issues like differences in inequality across various sectors and ways in which to increase LGBTI people’s wellbeing at work. The Nordic report also shows that older LGBTI people might face particular challenges. At retirement, they could be at greater risk of loneliness and isolation.  

At the forefront but far from finished

Homosexuality was decriminalised in several of the Nordic countries only around 70 years ago, and for long after that, it was classified as a psychiatric illness. Since then there have been great improvements, and internationally the Nordics are considered to be at the forefront when it comes to things like legislation protecting LGBTI people. 

Yet major challenges remain. There are threats from several quarters to LGBTI people’s rights, and several Nordic countries face growing opposition to LGBTI issues, the report says. 

It recommends action on several fronts in order to break down negative attitudes toward LGBTI people, to strengthen their protection and to secure better knowledge among a range of social players – and to enforce existing legislation in the Nordic countries.

Rainbow Europe

Rainbow Europe ranks all 49 European countries on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights, discrimination) and 100% (respect of human rights, full equality). The countries are ranked on the basis of laws and policies that have a direct impact on the LGBTI people’s human rights in under 6 categories: equality and non-discrimination; family; hate crime and hate speech; legal gender recognition and bodily integrity; civil society space; and asylum.

The five best countries:

Belgium 73%
Luxembourg 72%
Norway 70%
France 70%

The five worst countries:

Turkey 4%
Armenia 7%
Russia 10%
Monaco 11%

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