Fully 40 percent of Norwegian men still have a negative attitude towards homosexuality, according to a new national study of the situation for gay, lesbian and trans- and bisexual persons in the country.
The study, conducted by Uni Helse for the state directorate in charge of children’s and family issues (Barne-, ungdoms og familiedirektoratet), found that around 40 percent of Norwegian men think sex between two men is wrong, and 22 percent think sex between women is wrong.
Around 23 percent of Norwegian men even said that they’re “disgusted” by the thought, and a similar number think homosexuality is perverse.
Attitudes overall have improved somewhat since the last such study five years ago, but many people still have what Mari Trommald of the directorate called “discriminating attitudes towards people with a different sexual orientation.” Fully 16 percent of men questioned said they would find another seat on a bus if they knew they were sitting next to a gay man.
“We should have zero tolerance for such attitudes,” Trommald told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It’s not acceptable to discriminate.”
The attitudes were surprising, in a country where many gay men hold or have held top government posts, for example former Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss of the Conservative Party, soon to become state auditor general, and current Health Minister Bent Høie. The head of the Labour Party’s youth group AUF, Eskil Pedersen, is also openly gay, as are many others in high-profile positions in business, politics, the media and the arts.
Trommald worries that the prevalence of homophobia in Norway means that persons of other than heterosexual orientation can have a hard time at the workplace, at school or other facets of daily life.
Bård Nylund, leader of the national organization representing the interests of people with non-heterosexual orientation, LLH, said the new study shows there’s still a lot of work to be done in the campaign to end sexual discrimination.
“These are important findings,” Nylund told NRK. “It’s good to get such research on the table, so that we can have clear goals in areas where it’s most needed.”