Fifty years on, Norway apologises for law that criminalised gay sex

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Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere speaks during the High Level Segment session of the One Ocean Summit (OOS) which seeks to raise the international community's ambitions to protect sealife, cut plastic pollution and tackle the impact of climate change, in Brest, France February 11, 2022. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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OSLO, April 20 (Reuters) - The Norwegian government formally apologised to gay men on Wednesday for a law that once criminalised sexual intercourse between men.

Some 119 individuals were convicted and sent to jail between 1902 and 1950 under a law that was abolished 22 years later, on April 21, 1972.

On the eve of the anniversary of its abolition, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said the government was issuing an official apology for the law.

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"Through legislation, but also through a network of sanctions, we as a nation and society made it clear that we did not accept queer love. The government wishes to apologise for that," Stoere said.

Norway decriminalised homosexuality in 1972. It allowed civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 1993, the second country in the world to do so after Denmark. Same-sex marriages were given equal status to heterosexual ones in 2009.

"This law has destroyed many lives," said Culture and Equality Minister Annette Trettebergstuen, who is a lesbian, speaking after the prime minister.

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Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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