Great news from Norway that seems to have escaped the major news media, including those from Norway itself: yesterday its government introduced a proposal to abolish discrimination against gays in the country’s marriage law. According to the press release, the new paragraph 1 of the law would read: “Two people of the same or opposite sex can get married”. After the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, and South-Africa, this will take the number of countries in the world that allow homosexuals to get married to six.
People who want to get married in Norway will not be required to live in Norway or to have Norwegian citizenship. Such a requirement does not exist in the current law either.
The church law (Norway has a state church) is changed as well so the Norwegian Church gets the right to perform gay marriages without being obliged to do so.
The existing partnership law for gay couples is withdrawn, although existing partnerships will remain valid for those who want to.
Gay couples will also get the right to adoption under the same conditions as straight couples. Lesbian couples will get parenthood automatically over children born from one of them through IVF from a donor, just like this is the case for straight couples. The non-biological mother will then be called “medmor” (co-mother) under the law. If the father is not a donor, the other partner cannot become medmor but only adopt the child as a stepparent. The law does not foresee in parenthood for male couples.
**update** The family and culture committee of Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament, organises a hearing about the new proposal on 21 April 2008. See here for more information on the state of play in Stortinget. The text of the proposal itself can be found here (all in Norwegian).