Homonettverket - Gay and Lesbian Social Democrats (GALSD)
The Norwegian Labour party's gay network was founded by gay and lesbian members of the Labour party in 2004. The Labour party is Norway's largest political party, is currently in government and has long traditions focusing on human rights and solidarity. The party pioneered several gay and lesbian causes, including the introduction of a domestic partnership law, but in recent years its politics on gay rights were unclear and not of high priority. This is what the founders of the network wanted to change. They felt that gay rights (and human rights in general) should be a natural part of the party's politics, and wanted to show the Labour party's including values through gay politics as well.
The network is growing rapidly. Since the founding five years ago, the number of members is now more than 250. This high participation is important for our direct impact on the party's main politics.
In early 2005, we successfully won support from a majority in the party convention for full gay marriage and adoption rights. In September 2005, we campaigned actively for a change of government. We believe the gay vote helped oust the previous conservative government with a Christian Democratic Prime Minister. One of our members, Anette Trettebergstuen, was elected Member of Parliament, while another, Kjell Erik Øie, was the Deputy Minister for Children and Equality.
Since the Labour party went into government with two other parties in 2005, we have witnessed a breakthrough for various important issues for Norwegian gays and lesbians. The government introduced full gay marriage and adoption rights and the right to artificial insemination. The tripartite government was re-elected in 2009. The Labour party now has three openly gay and lesbian Members of Parliament: Anette Trettebergstuen, Thor Erik Forsberg, and GALSD's leader Håkon Haugli.
We are now working in a beneficial environment for gay rights. We have a party that is concerned about gay rights, but we are at all times impatient and struggling to make our voices heard when we feel that the work isn't going fast enough. To us it is crucial that the Labour party has the most liberal and uncompromising gay politics. It is our job to make sure this gets done.
The board of GALSD is set up by twelve members, meeting frequently. We impose a clear and present view on the decision makers within the party and make sure these are extended into the Norwegian society. The fight for gay rights in Norway has come far, and therefore it is our privilege and duty to uphold the agenda. We work systematically to create discussion, through our contact with the press, our many open letters to major newspapers and our open meetings. We are succeeding in being visible in the media and other public forums. This has forced our governing politicians to take a stand on the issues that are important to us, and made them commit to these.
We organize open meetings about once a month. We have had high profiled speakers and a good turnout (15 – 50 attendees). Examples of meeting subjects are:
- Gay Muslims in Norway, and the double discrimination they are facing.
- Gay athletes and the taboo of homosexuality in sports.
- Shame and self-loathing in the gay community.
- Media's tabloid angle to the gay lifestyle.
- Being openly gay in the workplace.
- Gay and lesbian health.
- Homosexuality in the Norwegian schools curriculum
Although lesbians and gay men still face discrimination and many choose to remain closeted, the prospects for Norwegian gay people are optimistic; much due to our party's governing. The Labour party introduced same-sex marriage. In Norway, you are now also allowed to adopt your partner's child, also when it is conceived by artificial insemination. Although this has been a reality for some time, the bureaucratic process has been a bumpy road. Our party has taken steps to make this more accessible. This has made many same-sex couples' lives easier. We have contributed in making the city council of Oslo execute an action plan for gay people living in the capital. In retrospect of this, other cities in Norway will be encouraged to do the same. We think it is important that gay people are visible in politics and society. We will continue to work for openly gay politicians in central positions and towards improving the lives of lesbians and gay men in Norway.