"Those of us who are queer grow up as minorities in our families, in school and in society. That’s why it is so important to find networks, support and communities with others who are like you. It helps to alleviate the feeling of exclusion and difference,” said Inge Alexander Gjestvang, head of the association FRI, during the debate in Nuuk. The event in Greenland was one in a series of eight debates focusing on the challenges facing the LGBTI community. They were attended by LGBTI individuals, interest groups, young people, official bodies, experts and politicians. The Norwegian journalist Gisle August Gjevestad Agledahl has written up the main points in the Think Piece: Seven challenges for the LGBTI equality – and how Nordic co-operation can solve them – in which he provides an analysis of the debates and the solutions proposed.
Several times during the debates, participants expressed a pronounced desire for more wide-ranging Nordic co-operation between organisations and associations of all sizes
Call for closer co-operation
In 2020, the Nordic Ministers for Gender Equality initiated formal political co-operation to enhance protection for and improve the lives of the LGBTI community throughout the region. The eight debates were part of this work. The point was to hear about the lives of people on the ground, listen to what they think and draw all this information together at Nordic level to inform the ministers’ work going forward. The debates addressed a range of themes and shed light on the challenges LGBTI people face on a daily basis. Topics included, the right to live a dignified, safe and open life, everyday life at school and in the workplace, recognition and rights in the family and experiences of the health services. Another major problem in our society is violence and discrimination against members of the LGBTI community. This was highlighted with particular focus on the challenges associated with minority identities. The debates also covered networking, international solidarity and media and film culture.
“Several times during the debates, participants expressed a pronounced desire for more wide-ranging Nordic co-operation between organisations and associations of all sizes,” says journalist Gisle August Gjevestad Agledahl.
Working with civil society
The debates were organised along with local civil society groups, who made their platforms available, built bridges to relevant actors, created visibility and took part in the debates at Åland Pride, Helsinki Pride, Umepride, Tórshavn, Reykjavík, Nuuk, Mix Copenhagen and Arctic Pride, Tromsø.
Forty years of focus on gender equality
The Nordic countries have been working together to improve equality in all spheres of society for more than 40 years. Gender equality is one of the reasons for the success of the Nordic model and a cornerstone of the modern Nordic welfare state. The Nordic Council of Ministers uses the term LGBTI, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex.