LGBT rights in Denmark

LGBT rights in Denmark Denmark

Location of  Denmark  (dark green)

 in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
 in the European Union  (light green)   [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1933,
age of consent equalized in 1977
Gender identity/expression Transgender persons allowed to change legal gender without a diagnosis, hormone therapy, surgery or sterilization
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity/expression protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2012
Adoption Full adoption rights since 2010
Copenhagen Pride 2008

The rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Denmark are some of the most extensive in the world and a high priority.

Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1933, and since 1977, the age of consent is 15, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.[1] Denmark was the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, in the form of "registered partnerships", in 1989. On 7 June 2012, the law was replaced by a new same-sex marriage law, which came into effect on 15 June 2012,[2] and Denmark recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was entirely prohibited in 2004. Same-sex couples are allowed to jointly adopt since 2010, while previously allowing stepchild adoptions and limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents. Gays and lesbians are also allowed to serve openly in the military.

Like its Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark has become one of the most socially liberal countries in the world, with recent polls indicating that a large majority of Danes support same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption.[3] Copenhagen, the capital, has frequently been referred to by publishers as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world,[4] famous for its annual Pride Parade.

The Kingdom of Denmark also includes two autonomous overseas territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are generally more socially conservative. However, Greenland legalised same-sex marriage in 2016.[5]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1933, and since 1977, the age of consent is 15, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.[1]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Registered partnerships (registreret partnerskab) were created by a law enacted on 7 June 1989, the world's first such law, and came into force on 1 October 1989.[6][7] Registered partnerships had almost all the same qualities as marriage; all legal and fiscal rights and obligations were like those of opposite-sex marriage, with the major exception being that regulations by international treaties did not apply unless all signatories agree.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Denmark on 15 June 2012, after the Danish Parliament voted on 7 June in favour of gender-neutral marriage, including marriages in the Church of Denmark.[2][8]

The Danish government proposed marriage equality legislation in Parliament on 14 March 2012. Parliament passed the bill, and royal assent was granted three days later. The law entered into force on 15 June 2012.[9] The proposed legislation removes almost all discrimination in current law, leaving only a few gender-specific articles.[10]

Adoption and family planning

See also: LGBT parenting

Since 1999, a person in a same-sex registered partnership has been able to adopt his or her partner's biological children (known as a "stepchild adoption").[11][12] Adoption by LGBT parents was previously only permitted in certain restricted situations, notably when a previous connection exists between the adopting parent and the child, such as being a family member or a foster child.

Since 1 July 2010, same-sex couples may apply jointly for adoption.[13][14] On 20 July 2014, a gay male couple became the first gay couple to adopt a foreign child since it became legal in 2010, when they adopted a nine-month-old girl from South Africa.[15]

On 2 June 2006, the Danish parliament voted to repeal a law that since 1997 had banned lesbians from artificial insemination, giving lesbians more parental rights to genetically have children. Also, the other partner who is not the biological parent of the child is written onto the birth certificate as the other natural parent.[16]

Military service

Openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers serve without hindrance in all branches of the Danish Defence. Discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers in recruitment, placement and promotion is prohibited in Denmark.[17] There are prominent openly gay military leaders in the Defence and there are no reported cases of threats to gays, morale, or national security.[18] A study of the conditions for gay men indicates that gay men in the Danish Defence show strength and are respected.[19]

Discrimination protections and hate crime laws

Danish law includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.[20][21]

Danish law includes hate crimes legislation, which adds extra penalties for crimes committed against people because of their sexuality and for their gender identity or form of gender expression.[20]

Gender identity and expression

In February 2013, a Guatemalan became the first transgender person to be granted asylum in Denmark because of persecution in her native country.[22] However, she was put in a facility for men, where she had been assaulted several times and was initially refused. They reopened the case when LGBT Denmark proved her life would be in danger if she returned to Guatemala.[23]

In June 2014, the Danish parliament voted 59-52 to remove the requirement of diagnosis with a mental disorder and surgery with irreversible sterilization during the process of a legal sex change. This makes Denmark the first European country to remove the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis as a necessary requirement in the gender recognition process.[24] Since 1 September 2014, Danes over 18 years old who wish to apply for a legal sex change can do so by stating that they want to change their documentation, followed by a six-month-long "reflection period" to confirm the request.[25][26]

Pending a decision by the World Health Organization to remove transgender gender identity from its list of mental illnesses, Denmark initially postponed a unilateral change. Citing a lack of progress at the WHO, the Danish parliament decided to remove transgender gender identity from the National Board of Health's list of mental illnesses in 2016. The change will come into effect on 1 January 2017.[27] It was the second European country to do this, after France which introduced a similar legislation in 2010.[28]

Blood donation

In May 2014, six Danish political parties called on Health Minister Nick Hækkerup to lift the ban that prohibits gay and bi men from being allowed to donate blood.[29][30]

In August 2016, it was reported that a majority of MPs in Parliament support lifting the ban. The Danish People's Party, the Social Democrats and the Alternative all support a proposal put forward by Danish Social Liberal Party leader Morten Østergaard, who wants to lift the country’s ban on gay and bi men donating blood.[31]

Public opinion

A December 2006 European Union member poll showed Danish support for same-sex marriage at 69 percent.[32] Angus Reid Global Monitor conducted the poll for issues regarding European Union integration. With the attitudes in Europe regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage, Denmark proved to be high on the list of possible nations that would grant marriage to gay and lesbian citizens, in third place behind The Netherlands (82 percent) and Sweden (71 percent).

In a 2013 YouGov poll of 1,005 Danes, 59% agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children, while 79% agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.[3]

A 2015 Eurobarometer found that 87% of Danes thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe. Additionally, in that same poll, 90% thought that lesbian, gay and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexuals, and 88% agreed that there is nothing wrong about a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex.[33]

Summary table

Rights of LGBT people in Denmark (excluding the autonomous countries of Greenland and the Faroe Islands):

Same-sex sexual activity Civil union Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Legal since 1933[20] Registered partnership from 1989 Legal since 2012 Step-child adoption since 1999.
Joint adoption since 2010.
Since 1978 Bans all anti-gay discrimination Legal gender change and recognition possible without surgery or hormone therapy.[34]

Summary by territories of the Kingdom of Denmark

Right Yes/No Notes
Same-sex sexual activity
Same-sex sexual acts legal Since 1933
Homosexuality declassified as an illness Since 1981[35][36]
Equal age of consent for same-sex and opposite-sex sexual acts Since 1977 (Denmark and Greenland)
Since 1988 (Faroe Islands)
Same-sex relationships
Registered partnerships for same-sex couples Since 1989 (Denmark)[37]
Since 1996 (Greenland)[38]
No laws exists, bills rejected in 2014 (Faroe Islands)[39][40][41][42]
Civil partnerships in religious venues Since 2012 (Denmark)
Since 2016 (Greenland)[43][44][5]
No law exists (Faroe Islands)
Civil and religious same-sex marriage[note 1] Since 2012 (Denmark)
Since 2016 (Greenland)[43][5]
No law exists (Faroe Islands)
Adoption and family planning
Joint and step-child adoption for LGBT persons and same-sex couples Since 1999 and 2010 (Denmark)[45]
Since 2009 and 2016 (Greenland)
No law exists (Faroe Islands)
Equal access to IVF for all couples and individuals Since 2006 for lesbians (Denmark and Greenland)
No law exists (Faroe Islands)
Same-sex couples as both parents on a birth certificate Since 2013 (Denmark)
No law exists (Faroe Islands and Greenland)
Equal access to surrogacy for all couples and individuals Unclear
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Illegal for heterosexual couples also
Military service
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in military Since 1978
Transgender rights
Right to change legal gender Since 2014 (Denmark)
No law exists (Faroe Islands and Greenland)[46]
Right to change legal gender without having to end marriage Since 2014 (Denmark)
Since 2016 (Greenland)
No law exists (Faroe Islands and Greenland)
Discrimination protections
Laws against hate speech based on sexual orientation Since 1987 (Denmark)[47]
Since 2007 (Faroe Islands)[38]
Since 2010 (Greenland)[38]
Laws against hate speech based on gender identity No law exists[48]
Laws against hate crimes on sexual orientation through an aggravating circumstance Since 2004 (Denmark)
Since 2007 (Faroe Islands)
Since 2010 (Greenland)
Laws against hate crimes on gender identity through an aggravating circumstance No law exists[48]
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas on sexual orientation and gender identity (including harassment, victimisation, direct and indirect discrimination) Since 2004 (Denmark)
No law exists (Faroe Islands and Greenland)
Migration rights
Immigration equality and rights for LGBT individuals and same-sex couples Legal
Recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity for asylum requests Some cases recognised
LGBT sex education and relationships taught in schools Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), which includes sex and relationships, is compulsory,[49] but LGBT sex education and relationships is rarely or not taught in schools.
MSMs allowed to donate blood (Pending)

See also


  1. Same-sex marriages give all the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage and can be performed on approved premises and religious venues in Denmark (with a religious ceremony guaranteed in the Church of Denmark)


  1. 1 2 Bekendtgørelse af straffeloven
  2. 1 2 The Copenhagen Post, 7 June 2012: Gay marriage legalised Retrieved 2012-09-19
  3. 1 2 "YouGov / EMEA Survey Results" (PDF). YouGov. 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  4. Chris Zeiher (20 October 2014). "The most gay-friendly places on the planet". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 (Danish)"Vedtaget af Folketinget ved 3. behandling den 19. januar 2016 Forslag til Lov om ændring af myndighedsloven for Grønland, lov om ikrafttræden for Grønland af lov om ægteskabets retsvirkninger, retsplejelov for Grønland og kriminallov for Grønland" (PDF). Folketinget. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  6. The Registered Partnership Act
  7. Sheila Rule: Rights for Gay Couples in Denmark - New York Times. Published: 2 October 1989. Accessed: 7 June 2012
  8. Homoseksuelle fik ja til ægteskab - Jyllands-Posten.
  9. 'The bill as proposed by the minister of Social Affairs and Integration', "Folketinget", 14 March 2012.
  10. Article 1, section 7 of the bill, "L 106 Forslag til lov om ændring af lov om ægteskabs indgåelse og opløsning, lov om ægteskabets retsvirkninger og retsplejeloven og om ophævelse af lov om registreret partnerskab."
  11. "Draft Paper: Same-Sex Couples as Parents", authored by Nina Dethloff, Bonn University (footnote 16 references § 4(1) Lov om registreret partnerskab no. 372)
  12. "National Report: Denmark", authored by Christina G. Jeppesen de Boer and Annette Kronborg, American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and Law, volume 19, number 1, page 118, 2011 (footnote 18 references Act No. 360)
  13. (Danish) Lov om ændring af lov om registreret partnerskab, lov om en børnefamilieydelse og lov om børnetilskud og forskudsvis udbetaling af børnebidrag
  14. "Gay couples in Denmark now allowed to adopt", International Gay, Lesbian, Trans and Intersex Association, 5 May 2010
  15. "Første danske homopar adopterer fra udlandet". Politiken. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  16. "National Report: Denmark", authored by Christina G. Jeppesen de Boer and Annette Kronborg, American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and Law, volume 19, number 1, page 119, 2011 (footnote 21 references Act No. 535)
  17. LGBT world legal wrap up survey
  18. Konigsberg, Eric (November 1992). "Gays in arms: can gays in the military work? In countries around the world, they already do". The Washington Monthly. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  19. Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Denmark. – a study of the experiences and perceptions of six homosexual men in the Danish Armed Forces Associated professor Ina Borup, NHV — Nordic School of Public Health, Jan 2010.
  20. 1 2 3 State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws criminalising same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults
  21. Main legislation
  22. "Transgender woman granted asylum in Denmark",, 4 February 2013
  23. Fernanda Milan, Guatemalan Transgender Woman, Granted Asylum In Denmark
  24. "Denmark becomes Europe's leading country on legal gender recognition | The European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights". 2014-06-12. Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  25. World must follow Denmark's example after landmark transgender law, archived from the original on 2014-08-29, retrieved 2016-08-04
  26. Bill proposing change of law in relation to the Civil Registration System
  27. Denmark to the WHO: Trans Identity Is Not a Mental Illness
  28. France: Gender Identity Disorder Dropped from List of Mental Illnesses
  29. Danish Health Minister called upon to lift ban on gay blood donation
  30. Risikibetonet adfærd
  31. Danish gay men should be allowed to donate blood
  32. Europe Split On Gay Marriage
  33. Special Eurobarometer 437 DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2015
  34. Denmark changes sex change laws
  35. (Danish) 30 år siden: Homoseksualitet fjernet fra Sundhedsstyrelsens sygdomsliste
  36. (Danish) Homoseksualitetsbegrebet i Danmark
  37. Same-Sex Marriage: A Reference Handbook
  38. 1 2 3 STATE-SPONSORED HOMOPHOBIA ; A world survey of laws: Criminalisation, protection and recognition of same-sex love
  39. Faroe Islands: Equal marriage bill voted down
  40. (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 51 Viðgerð: 2
  41. (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 52 Viðgerð: 2
  42. (Faroese) Løgtingssetan 2013 Mál: 53 Viðgerð: 2
  43. 1 2 (Danish)
  44. (Danish)"L 35 Forslag til lov om ændring af myndighedsloven for Grønland, lov om ikrafttræden for Grønland af lov om ægteskabets retsvirkninger, retsplejelov for Grønland og kriminallov for Grønland". Folketinget. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  45. Gays given equal adoption rights Archived 16 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  46. Jan Dagø (2013-10-23). "Holdningsskred i synet på homoseksuelle på Færøerne | Information" (in Danish). Retrieved 2015-04-10.
  47. (Danish) Lov om ændring af borgerlig straffelov og lov om forbud mod forskelsbehandling på grund af race m.v.
  48. 1 2 Rainbow Europe: Denmark
  49. "Fælles Mål 2009 - Sundheds- og seksualundervisning og familiekundskab". 2009. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
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