FRI – Foreningen for kjønns- og seksualitetsmangfold
(The Association for Gender and Sexuality Diversity)
FRI, founded in 1950, has been pivotal in bringing about the legal and societal changes LGBTQ+ people in Norway have witnessed in the past 71 years. As a membership organisation with local chapters all over the country, FRI advocates for attitude and policy changes, securing access to human rights for all.
In its national work, FRI trains staff within both private and public sectors, including the health, education, child welfare and justice sectors, on how to implement non-discrimination policies. FRIs annual turnover is approximately 26 500 000. FRIs main sources of income are from government grants.
Since 2006 FRI has been an advocate for the inclusion of human rights of LGBTQ+ people within foreign policy and development cooperation, and since 2007 FRI has received Norad and MFA support to work with partners in Asia and Africa. In Kenya and Southern Africa FRI with partners works to engage Muslim and Christian faith communities for LGBTQ+ inclusion. The programme in Nepal and Southeast Asia focuses on child rights advocacy and inclusion of LGBTQ+ children and youth, in collaboration with local LGBTQ+ organisations and Save the Children.
FRI is a member of ILGA World, the international umbrella for LGBTQ+ organisations, and part of a global activist network advocating for rights for all at the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly. FRI cooperates with a wide range of partners at national and international levels,
including LGBTQ+, Children’s Rights, Women’s Rights and Human Rights NGOs. FRI also participates in two civil society working groups within The Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental body of 42 Member States dedicated to the protection of the rights of LGBTQ+ persons.
Bringing the topic into spotlight: LGBTQ+ Roma in Norway
While the analytical report “The Roma LGBTQ+ minority and its status in selected EU countries” explores the situation in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, a national roundtable conference was held in Norway, focusing on the topic of LGBTQ+ Roma in the Norwegian context. This was the first ever public discussion concerning the LGBTQ+ Roma community.
The status of Norwegian Roma is specific in that they are currently one of only two Roma groups officially recognised as national minorities. Having been launched in mid-2021, the research on sexual orientation, gender diversity and wellbeing shows that the proportion of persons who identify as members of an ethnic minority is actually higher among binary, transgender people than among the general population. This also applies to those who identify as Romani (the second group of Roma) and Roma/Tatar.
Given these specifics and historical development, the problems faced by LGBTQ+ Roma are identical to those in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. This community can be described as invisible even in the Norwegian context, both within the Roma community and the larger LGBTQ+ community.
Their vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity remain a cultural and religious taboo. Their closed community way of life limits their self-determination, awareness and knowledge about, for example, forms of support and help available from the majority Norwegian society. LGBTQ+ Roma are mistrustful of the institutional help system. Their social isolation or limited social contact with the wider community increases the risk of exclusion from the family and community. These problems also include discrimination affecting the LGBTQ+ community as such and anti-gypsyism.
The constructive discussion and mutual exchange of information and experience charted a direction in the area of the inclusion of Norwegian LGBTQ+ people with Roma origin in society. This includes:
- Creating space for networking and sharing experience and practices in working with the Roma LGBTQ+ community
- Enhancing the knowledge and awareness of non-governmental organisations that work with the LGBTQ+ community about Roma groups/ethnic minorities, and improving their skills to apply a culturally sensitive approach
- Undertaking activities aimed to raise awareness among the Roma LGBTQ+ community
- Ensuring non-governmental organisations are empowered with funds and staff to provide psychological, social, legal and material support to the Roma LGBTQ+ community.