Norway considers enforcing ban on conversion therapy

Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said she thinks a ban on so-called conversion therapy should be considered by lawmakers.

Norway considers enforcing ban on conversion therapy
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg. File photo: AFP

In an interview with newspaper Dagbladet, Solberg said conversion therapy could potentially be banned under existing law.

Conversion therapy is the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of an LGBTQ+ person through psychological or spiritual intervention.

No reliable evidence exists that sexual orientation can be changed, while medical bodies have warned that conversion therapy practices are potentially harmful.

“It is painful to see how hard (conversion therapy) is for people who believe in God, but who are made to think that ‘God does not believe in you’. There are parts of this therapy that would be prohibited in principle under current legislation,” Solberg told Dagbladet.

Solberg’s Conservative party has stated in parliament that it supports looking into the viability of a ban.

“It is horrible to subject people to some aspects of this [conversion therapy, ed.]. So an investigation such as the one now being discussed at parliament is a good idea, because this is a complicated matter,” Solberg said.

She added that a ban could be difficult to implement in practice, and that at different aspects of this issue must be looked at “a little deeper”.

Debate about conversion therapy in Norway come to the fore after the Labour Party proposed a ban.

Conservative party members of the parliamentary Family and Cultural Committee (familie- og kulturkomiteen) have said that they want to consider a ban. Newspaper VG reports an overall parliamentary majority in favour.

But Kjell Inge Ropstad, leader of coalition partner the Christian Democrats, said such a ban is not needed, however.

“I think it is unnecessary, because this is already regulated today. That is (our) approach”, the party leader, who is also Minister of Children and Families, told news agency NTB last week.

“A lot of this is already prohibited, it is either medical quackery or simply abuse,” Ropstad said.

The Family and Cultural Committee has until December 3rd to submit its response to Labour’s proposal for a ban.

The opposition party has signalled that it will vote secondarily for an investigation if there is no majority for an outright ban, NTB reports.

READ ALSO: Is it difficult to be gay in the Norwegian workplace?


WATCH: Viral Norwegian Christmas ad where Santa has a boyfriend

A Christmas advert by Posten, the Norwegian postal service, which depicts Santa in a same-sex relationship, has been branded "fantastic" and "perfect" after going viral. 

Pictured is a screenshot from Posten's Christmas advert.
The advert where Santa Claus falls in love with Harry, both pictured above, has caused a stir on social media. Picture from screenshot Youtube/ Posten.

Posten’s Christmas advert titled “When Harry met Santa” — a nod to the 1989 rom-com “When Harry met Sally…” — has caused a splash since it premiered on social media before airing on Norwegian screens this week. 

The new ad follows up on last year’s offering where Santa was angry at the postal service for taking away his “business”. 

The nearly four-minute film sees Santa and Harry build up a bond over several years. However, the pair are restricted to fleeting encounters due to Santa’s packed schedule- until he enlists Posten to ease his workload so the two can spend more time together before sharing a kiss in the final scene. 

The advert was made to mark next year’s 50th anniversary of same-sex relationships being decriminalised in the Scandinavian country.

“This year, it’s all about love – highlighting the fact that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Norway,” Posten said in a statement to newswire Reuters.

“In addition to showing the flexibility of our services, we want to put it in a socially relevant setting,” it said.

Mats Strandberg, who is married to Johan Ehn, the actor who plays Harry, tweeted, “That’s my husband kissing Santa!”. 

Below you can watch the ad with English subtitles.