A special welcome to our international guests!
I am happy and proud to take part in the opening of Euro Pride 2014 and Pride House! After all it is this summer s most beautiful fairytale in Oslo.
As you all probably remember, another Norwegian Fairytale won the Eurovision song contest five years ago. This year the Austrian artist Conchita Wurst rised like a phoenix all over Europe.
We have come a long way, but we still have steps to make.
First of all I would like to underline the importance of Euro Pride -- and everyone who takes part in this event. Euro Pride contributes to raise awareness and to spread knowledge on LGBT issues.
Today it is hard to believe that homosexuality between men was illegal until 1972. Thanks to LGBT organizations and activists -- Norway is a different society today. It is a society where everyone has equal rights and you may marry the person you love.
I am also proud to say that one year ago all parties in the Norwegian parliament voted in favour of the new LGBT non discrimination act. This is an important milestone. The law protects against discrimination -- not only on the ground of sexual orientation, but also on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression.
But even when the laws are in place, many same sex couples do not dare to hold hands when they go for a walk.
We know that hate crimes towards LGBT -persons still happens. Killings and violence based on the presumed sexual orientation of the victim, is still a fact in many countries -- including Norway.
A living conditions survey shows that we need improvements in different sectors, for example in health care, in schools, in immigration centres and in the police.
I am proud to tell you that the Norwegian government have started to work on a new non-discrimination act. The new law will cover all discrimination grounds and all sectors of society. With this law, we wish to give a better protection against discrimination, especially for persons who risk double or even triple discrimination.
During the last years we have seen a disturbing development in many countries, especially Uganda and Russia. During Norway s Prime Minister Erna Solberg s visit to the Olympics in Sochi, she clearly communicated to Prime Minister Medvedev: Human rights are indeed for all -- including for LGBT-individuals and all Governments must actively protect vulnerable groups, especially when their fundamental rights are violated.
This hard reality -- shows why Euro Pride, Pride House and the Pride Parade are still so important, both in Norway and in the rest of the world.
I am very happy for the open and positive dialogue between the Government and the different LGBT organizations in Norway.
This Government came into office in October, and we already have made some important steps.
This year we signed the IDAHO Forum declaration. This declaration takes the international policy framework one step further. And we have committed ourselves to support and initiate measures and plans on the international, the regional and on the national level.
I am impressed by the extensive program of Pride House and Euro Pride. I am sure many good debates, lectures and workshops will take place.
The different Pride House debates will put politics and human rights in an LGBT perspective on the agenda, both in Norway and in Europe.
It is important for me as Minister for LGBT-policies to show that Europe stands together for human rights for LGBT people, and that politicians and activists also share this goal. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to take part in the most important LGBT event in Europe this year.
I wish you all an inspiring and fun Europride, and I look very much forward to the parade next week. I hope to see many of you there!