Oslo Pride cancels street festival over coronavirus fears

Oslo Pride has cancelled this year's street parade, announcing plans to instead celebrate the city's gay, lesbian and transgender people with a virtual festival.

Oslo Pride cancels street festival over coronavirus fears
The parade normally attracts 450,000 people. Photo: Martin Fjellanger/Oslo Pride
Fredrik Dreyer, Chairman of Oslo Pride, said that in the current “frightening and unreal” situation, it was impossible to go ahead with the physical festival which had been due to take place between June 19 and June 28. 
“It is our absolute last resort and we have turned over every stone in the hunt for a possible solution, including a postponement or a change in date,” Dreyer said in a press release
“It would not be responsible for us to hold the physical events during Oslo Pride given the dangers posed in terms of spreading infection.
“Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean there will be no Pride – there will! We are far more than just a festival – and you’ll see that this year too.” 
The decision to cancel a parade in mid-June will raise further questions over the government's delay in taking a decision over the children's parades that form the centre of National Day celebrations on May 17. 
“We know that this is a decision we have to take, but we want to know a little more first,” Justice Minister Monica Mæland said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. 
As many as 450,000 people take place in the city's Pride march every year, making it one of the most colourful and well-attended events in the city each year. 
In the press release, Dreyer said that his organisation was already planning “alternative events to show the strength of our community”. 
“We will be live-streaming debates to showcase the breadth of our movement and the diversity in our community. We will continue to make our mark as norm breakers across all social media, and we want you on board too!” he said.
Ole Prin-Sand, Head of Pride Art, said he was “heartbroken” that the physical festival had been cancelled. 
“But we are excited about and see great potential in engaging with an audience across the country through the use of digital solutions,” he said. 

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Ten years after Norway introduced marriage equality, reports of hate crimes are increasing

Norway introduced marriage equality in 2008, but the number of reports of homophobic hate crimes increased between 2016 and 2017.

Ten years after Norway introduced marriage equality, reports of hate crimes are increasing
Police take part in last year's Oslo Pride. Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

Hate crimes were reported after Oslo’s Pride parade last year, and police figures state that 549 hate crimes were reported to law enforcement in 2017, NRK writes.

“People who say it is unnecessary to have a Pride parade should read about the current situation. We must have pride until everyone feels completely comfortable about being openly gay,” Dag Terje Solvang, who works for the Conservative party and is husband of Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie, told the broadcaster.

Police figures show a 17.8 percent in reports of homophobic hate crime between 2016 and 2017, although that was a more moderate increase than the 34.3 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Statistics show that the number of crimes of this type reported between 2012-2014 remained stable at around 200, but then began to increase.

“We are seeing challenges related to the increase of hate crime. There are new groups emerging that are hostile to gay people, both through physical violence and rhetoric,” Høie told NRK.

Norway’s marriage equality law, which was passed in 2008, was a step in the right direction, Høie said.

“We had (previously) a civil partnership law which was good in many ways, but was a separate law nonetheless. That was, in our view, a form of discrimination that was important to correct,” he said.

Høie and Solvang became civil partners 18 years ago, NRK writes. The civil partnership law was introduced by Norway in 1993. It was superseded by the marriage law in 2009.

Marriage equality gives gay couples in the Norway the right to adopt children and to have children through surrogate mothers, which was not provided for under the previous law.

The head of Norway’s Association of Gender and Sexuality Diversity (Foreningen for kjønns- og seksualitetsmangfold, FRI) said that, despite marriage equality, there was still some way to go before complete equality for homosexual couples is achieved.

“We have a lot of rights on paper but there is still a way to go to equality in people’s minds. This year we are focusing on equal treatment for non-traditional family units,” Ingvild Endestad told NRK.

Society must take responsibility and stand up against hate crime, she said.

“During Pride month people come out in all their colours, but ugly things also come out. There are still people who think homosexuality should be I made illegal. It’s precisely because opinions like this exist that it’s important for us to be visible and to talk about the problems we face,” she added.