4.8 Current debates and reforms
An ongoing debate about Romani visitors are periodically present in the Norwegian media and social media. A suggestion introduce a national ban against begging was not followed up, but municipalities were given the right to introduce local bans (nrk.no - timeline with articles [in Norwegian]).
Norway has had two major LGBTIQ policy events:
· The introduction of a new law giving the right to change legal gender (clients over the age of 16) without having to have a diagnosis (Regjeringen.no 21.06.2016 [in Norwegian]).
· The introduction and evaluation of free Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment to high risk groups, young men who have sex with men being one of them.
· The concern on an increase of LGBTIQ-hate crimes in general, and especially LGBTIQ of dual minority, and possible measures to prevent and combat (nrk.no 23.06.2016 [in Norwegian]).
· Focus on LGBTIQ and ethnic minorities (KUN, 2018).
· The completion of full and equal legal protection of trans and intersex people (http://www.ftpn.no/).
Disability and Universal Design
There are ongoing efforts in bringing all public spaces into physical availability to disabled people by the year 2025.
Efforts are described in:
Title in English: Universal design 2025. The Government’s action plan for universal design and increased access 2009-2013.
Title in Norwegian: Norge universelt utformet 2025. Regjeringens handlingsplan for universell utforming og økt tilgjengelighet 2009-2013.
Type of document: Action plan [‘handlingsplan’].
Time of introduction and timeframe: 2009 – in effect.
Religious clothing and symbols
Certain professions have regulation regarding correct attire and uniform, but everyone in Norway has the right to wear religious clothing and symbols.
The political discourse regarding religious clothing has become more polarized since the terrorist attacks happened in Brussels, Paris, and Nice in 2015 and 2016, and the increase of Syrian, Afghani and Iraqi refugees in 2015 and 2016.
A primary school in the northern town Finnsnes allowed the use of the Burkini in the children’s swimming education (nrk.no 21.07.2016 [in Norwegian]), that caused nation-wide debate around the inclusion of religious clothing in schools in Norway. The Ministry of Education and Research has said that it is up to each municipality whether or not they want to ban the use of the Burkini (dagbladet.no 14.07.2016 [in Norwegian]).
Supporters of denying the Burkini claimed religious clothing has no place in a secular setting, whereas opponents claimed that Christian values and rituals already exist as a part of the national curriculum, so to deny Muslims the same right would be ethically wrong and violate basic human rights. Some also saw the introduction of the Burkini as unproblematic as it would contribute to more inclusion of some young Muslim girls, as they again would feel comfortable attending swimming education.
While several MPs have stated that they would prefer to see the Niqab and Burqa banned in public spaces, the Norwegian Government has so far been hesitant to institute a nationwide ban. Opponents believe that such a ban would be unconstitutional (Dagbladet 21.06.2016 [in Norwegian]). The debate reignited after the European Court of Human Rights’ (EMD) condoned France’s ban on the use of Islamic veils in public spaces (Library of Congress 11.07.2014 and vg.no 05.07.2014 [in Norwegian]].
In 2018 a ban on the use of religious clothing covering the face of staff working as educators and teachers was introduced by the Ministry of Education and Research. Three parties voted against the ban and it is still being debated.