DENMARK, PIONEER IN RIGHTS FOR THE LGBT

ANA GARCÍA GUTIÉRREZ

DECEMBER, 2014

We live in a very judgemental world, we judge each other because of our religion, our gender, our race…but slowly this extremist has been turning into something less dangerous. Homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people are one of the most criticized groups but, do you know which country helped them in the accomplishment of one of their great achievements?

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the evolution throughout history of the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals in Denmark since they all are a very important part of the society. The right way to study this topic is looking at the different actions that have made the LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) society so natural accepted around the world, focusing in the country of Denmark. While most countries considered the LGBT society sort of an abomination and unnatural part of their population, the Danish people fought for their rights and were the first ones to accomplish the not so small goal of being recognized legally. Years after the legalization of gay marriage was real, and today’s Danish society is considered to be one in which homosexuals feel the most accepted.

Until and during part the nineteenth-century being homosexual in Denmark was punished by the law: “Relations against nature is punishable by execution” (Danish law, 1683). Then it was just punished with prison and one of the possible causes was “pornography affair”, and finally in 1933 being homosexual was decriminalized (Harris, 2012). But the situation in the rest of Europe was far from this small step of normalization. Different forms of totalitarianism were being practice in Germany, Russia or Spain, and those did not respect the homosexuals, in fact they believed it was a mental problem and thus they meant to be apart from the rest of the people. For example in the Nazi-Germany thousands of them died in concentration camps and in Franco’s Spain they were treated like the beggars or thieves. After the World War II they were also not included as a minority in the Declaration of Human Rights (1948). But during the last decades of the nineteenth-century and the beginning of the twenty-first-century their conditions have improved in an unthinkable way.

The Forbundet af 1948 (League of 1948) was created in 1948 and it became the first organization for homophiles in Denmark, it was a periodical publication, it also gave advice and help to gay people, and prepared social activities. It was extremely supervised by the police and during 1950 a scandal gave the organization a very bad reputation and its number of members drop tremendously also because they were afraid. The homosexual prostitution was not so shocking during those days, scandals about prostitution were a common thing and this was punished according to the “So-called ugly” clause (1961), until 1967 when the law was repealed and both homosexual and heterosexual prostitution actions were legal by the same law that already made pornography legal (Von Rosen, 2000). Six years later the law that banned men to dance together was also repealed. Forbundet af 1948 was not recognized by the government until 1969 when it started its changing political actions just as crossing of the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness in 1981 or creating the term “registered partnership”. Finally in 1989 civil unions or “registered partnerships” between same-sex persons were legalized in Denmark, it was the first country that accomplished this goal and all along the next years other countries such as its Scandinavian neighbors. Denmark was then a role model of tolerance and acceptance for the rest of countries. Axel and Eigil Axgil were the first gay couple that legalized their partnership; it was a remarkable moment in history (Abend, 2009). Most of the Danes backed the law because they felt it was the right thing to do. Therefore Denmark was the pioneer in terms of same-sex civil partnerships, but it did not go further at the time with other aspects such as adoption or marriage.
The following years were full of modifications as well. In 1996 all kinds of anti-gay discrimination were ratified in addition as discrimination of believes, age, nationality, race…Foreigners that had stayed for two years in Denmark had the same rights as the Danes who were in a civil union. The minority of the bisexuals were included in 2002 into the organization which at that time was called the LBL (The National Association for Gays and Lesbians) and in 2008 transsexuals were also invited. At last the organization took over the name LGBT (The national association for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transpersons); an acronym still in use when speaking about this group of the society internationally. After decades of fighting for their rights, the LGBT Danish organization fulfilled their wish of a legal marriage and not just registered partnership. 85 legislators were in favor, 24 against, 2 blank vote and 68 members were absent during that session. Only the Popular Danish Party was against this law. There is an article in the law that states that pastors are not forced to marry them if they do not wish, because with this law same-sex marriage is allowed in Lutheran Churches; the Church of Denmark. If the minister does not want to celebrate the ceremony he must find another one for the couple, as the law dictates. Furthermore, divorce is equally debated as marriage and it is striking that a small percentage of the gay couples get divorced compared with the heterosexual ones (Abend, 2009).

The registered partnership law affected both heritages and economic areas for the couple but it did not say anything about adoptions or insemination in lesbians (Lewis, 2010). In 1997 it was illegal for lesbians to get an artificial insemination in order to have kids, this also applied to single women; but they found a miscalculation in the clause which did not say anything about midwifes, the law talked just about treatments from doctors. Years later in 2006 the government finally game them the right to artificial insemination, and in 2009 the co-mother was able to adopt the child at birth that her couple had by artificial insemination. Additionally that same year the process to legalize adoption for homosexuals started. Since 1999 they could adopt their step children but it was not before the coming of a new law in 2010 when they had the same rights to adopt as heterosexuals (Harris, 2012).

These days the social status of the LGBT in Denmark is in a very high level. It has to be said how the significant law has modified the Danish society. Copenhagen is nowadays one of the most loved because they all feel greatly welcomed and accepted. This community also gives the LGBT increased rights compared to the rest of the countries around the world, for example their immigration policies are quite open and they have several laws that protect them against discrimination controlled by the Board of Equal Treatment. Fancy activities and festivals are celebrated every year such as the Queer Festival or the Pride Week. They have numerous options of bars and they even have their own radio station, Radio Rosa (Mapes).

It has not been easy for the LGBT community in Denmark to achieve everything they wanted; nevertheless, they are fighting to feel well received in a society in which the traditional thoughts are still going on in some way. From the punishments for being gay to the allowance for public relationships; from the relationships to the legal civil unions; from the registered partnerships to the marriage. All this process including the right to insemination and the right to adopt is what has conceded the Danish LGBT the chance to start a family, to have the same possibilities as the rest of the Danes.
References:

Lewis, R. (2010). Lesbians under Surveillance: Same-Sex Immigration Reform, Gay Rights, and the Problem of Queer Liberalism. Social Justice, 37(1), 90-106.

Abend, L. (2009). A Triumph For Love. Time International (South Pacific Edition), 173(25/26), 80-82.

Bryld, M. (2001). The Infertility Clinic and the Birth of the Lesbian The Political Debate on Assisted Reproduction in Denmark. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 8(3), 299-312.

Rydström, J. (2011). Odd couples: A history of gay marriage in Scandinavia.

George E. Haggerty (2000) Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Culture. Denmark, 251-253

Ian C. Harris. (2012). LGBT History in Denmark. Retrieved from: http://lgbt.dk/english/

Terri Mapes. Scandinavia for Gays & Lesbians. Retrieved from: http://goscandinavia.about.com/od/scandinaviatripplanning/p/gayslesbians.htm

Terri Mapes. Gay Rights in Denmark. Retrieved from: http://goscandinavia.about.com/od/specialinterestadult/qt/Gay-Rights-In-Denmark.htm

(2012, November 6) ¿Cómo es la legislación sobre los matrimonios gays en otros países? ABC. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.es/20121106/sociedad/abci-legislacion-matrimonio-homosexual-201211061209.html

(2012, June 7) Dinamarca: Aprueban ley que permite a homosexuales casarse en una iglesia. Perú 21. Retrieved from: http://peru21.pe/2012/06/07/actualidad/dinamarca-ley-permite-homosexuales-casarse-iglesia-2027718

LGBT rights in Europe (n.d.) Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Europe

Homosexualidad en Europa (n.d.) Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexualidad_en_Europa

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