Theater of Cruelty

Pompel and Pilt and the Minister

The Minister of Gender Equality should set gender equality the highest, not tile nailing.


[2. June 2006] Norwegian gays do not have the right to marry. Of course they should have. New Time is not alone in meaning that. Minister for Gender Equality Karita Bekkemellem thinks so, SV thinks so and the Labor Party thinks the same. In opposition, SV's Siri Hall Arnøy put forward a proposal for a gender-neutral marriage law. This happened as late as in the previous parliamentary term. The representative stated that she wanted to be the first gay man to marry when this is allowed, and the party supported her in that this case could be adopted without any investigation. The Labor Party in opposition gave the Bondevik government six months to study an amendment to the law. This testified to the power to act and the strong desire to rectify what is in fact a question of human rights.

Therefore, it was all the more disappointing when the Minister for Gender Equality announced this week that she would not present the case to the Storting in the spring of 2008, perhaps later. Then a new marriage law will not be able to enter into force until at least three years after the red-greens took over the government offices. Bekkemellem justifies this with the fact that the case was more complicated than she thought. Both the Children's Act, the Inheritance Act, the National Insurance Act, the Adoption Act, the Biotechnology Act and the Partnership Act are affected by the notified changes in the Marriage Act. The Minister for Gender Equality will rethink, initiate a broad investigation, send the case out for consultation, write a report to the Storting – and then a bill. We hear the echo of Pompel and Pilt and imagine the minister buried in bureaucrats who will repair, prepare and what is worse.

This is not a very complicated question, but an important principle. It should not be an impossible task to let the Storting decide on this issue without years of investigation. And we are not reassured by the Minister's defense that this "is about a sound, democratic process". Instead, we wonder to what extent this has to do with government buddy Center Party's reluctance to let gays marry. Perhaps the minister's problem is not others' bed-mates, but their own.

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