Intro: Compared to the anguished and furtive lives many lesbigays endure in Catholic and Muslim countries, visiting secular Scandinavia is a light-hearted relief. Our drive through Finland included meeting a few lesbigay folks in Helsinki for some easy conversation. The focus was not about the drama of survival or hiding but clarifying and refining intimate feelings.
Finland as a whole is considered to be liberal on gay rights issues. Finland legalized same-sex unions in 2002. # 1971 Homosexuality was decriminalized, but “promotion” of it remained illegal. # 1981 Homosexuality was removed from the illness classification list. # 1995 Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in the penal code. # 1999 The Criminal code is revised so that there is no difference in age limits for sexual acts. The prohibition of “promotion of homosexuality” is removed. # 2001 The law on registered partnership is passed. It follows the same regulations as the law on marriages except for the name and regulations on adoption. First couples were registered on March 8, 2002. # 2002 The law on the gender confirmation of transgender individuals comes into force. # 2004 The new equality act comes into force. The law prohibits direct and indirect discrimination and harassment based on age, ethnic or national origin, citizenship, language, religion, belief, opinion, health, disability, sexual orientation or any other ground in connection to the person. # 2005 The new act on gender equality comes into force. The act applies also for discrimination faced by trans-people. According to a statement given by government’s committee for employment and equality the discrimination regulations are to be interpreted in a way that they also cover discrimination based on a sex-change.
Finland is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland was historically part of Sweden and from 1809 an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917 from Russia was followed by a civil war, wars against