Denmark maintains positive record on LGBTI rights

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Denmark maintains positive record on LGBTI rights
Photo: Iris

A new Europe-wide comparison shows that Denmark has slipped four places on a review of LGBTI rights across the continent, but remains in the top eight gay-friendly nations in Europe.


In the latest Rainbow Europe report, Denmark scored 68 percent in its protections for and rights granted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), leaving it behind Malta, Norway, UK, Belgium, France and Portugal, and level with Finland.

Malta retained its pole position as the most gay friendly nation in Europe for the second year running after introducing a gender identity law and ban on harmful conversion practices.

The report ranked 49 countries based on their laws pertaining to same-sex marriage, adoption, rights for transgender people, and more.

Denmark's score of 68 percent placed it eighth on the ranking, a drop of four spots compared to 2016 but on higher that 2015, when it was ninth.

Although Denmark needn’t be too disheartened by dropping four places on the list, which was compiled by NGO ILGA-Europe, there are areas in which it could improve, Nanna Moe, senior communications officer with the organisation, told The Local.

“There is a long selection of criteria covered by the analysis which was increased from 52 to 58 this year, which has introduced a higher benchmark,” said Moe, who pointed out that there had been no directly negative developments in the area of LGBTI rights in Denmark.

“Malta and the UK are high on the list because they have introduced laws against conversion therapy – a new criteria compared to last year,” Moe said.

While Denmark’s record on LGBTI rights over the last year has been “very good” there were clear “gaps” in its equality laws as well as in implementation of existing laws, she said.

“There is certainly room for improvement – laws on gender identity and protection of LGBTI rights can still be improved,” she said.

Denmark’s decision to declassify trans identities as a mental illness was cited by the report as one of the main areas in which it moved forward on LGBTI rights in 2016.

Although the changes did not take effect immediately, the decision to move on the issue ahead of the WHO’s finalisation of the next edition of its classification system is praised.

The parliament vote in favour of declassifying was the first time that all parties had given their full cross-party support to an LGBTI issue.

Marriage equality and joint adoption were extended to couples in Greenland, and equal marriage legislation reached the final procedural stages before coming into effect in the Faroe Islands, reports ILGA.

Following a government reshuffle in November 2016, Denmark's new coalition cabinet published its programme for government, which contains a section on LGBT protection within an equality chapter.

In August, the Danish People’s Party, Social Democrats and Alternative party stated they would be in favour of a proposal from the Radical Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party to remove the ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM).

The statement was made during Pride week but no vote or amendment was put forward before the end of the year.

Last month, the government announced that it was supporting a campaign to bring two major LGBTI cultural events, WorldPride and Eurogames, to Copenhagen.

“It is important that we show that everyone – regardless of gender, sexuality and gender identity – is free to be themselves. Denmark is a world leader in regard to LGBTI rights, and therefore an ideal host,” minister for equality Karen Ellegaard said in a government statement on the bid for the events.

But a report by Amnesty International Denmark, which assessed the current legal gender recognition procedure, highlighted the ongoing difficulties that trans people still have when accessing health services.

NGO LGBT Denmark also issued in October last year a report on access to health services for trans people, revealing a complicated mix of soft regulations and hard laws, reports ILGA-Europe. 

The Rainbow report recommends that Denmark makes new provisions for trans people in its healthcare system, updates legal frameworks for gender recognition to give access to people under 18 years old, and makes legal recognitions of non-traditional parent roles in families.

The Rainbow rankings in full: 



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