Shining a Light on Global Queer Rights at Bergen Pride

The sun doesn’t shine often in Bergen, but it did this year for the opening of Pride Park. The weather and the city itself welcomed everyone to join the events.

Upon arriving at the airport, we were greeted by rainbow flags decorating the tram which takes travelers into the city. In downtown, flags were donned in front of municipal buildings, shops, and private homes. Even a few crosswalks in the city were rainbow-themed. We also learned that Bergen is a member of the so-called Rainbow Cities Network, which means the city specifically takes responsibility for protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ citizens.

Kim Frieles Square, a meeting place for all and a symbol of diversity, the square is said to be a physical manifestation of the democracy that the gay rights activist Kim Friele from Bergen fought for

The program of Bergen Pride included events for adults and there was a separate, mini-Pride program for children. As representatives of qLit, we participated in a panel discussion moderated by Skeiv Verden entitled “Global Queer Rights” alongside a panelist from Nepal, Sushobhan Bhandari. The goal of the panel was to shed light on the shifting situation of LGBTQ+ people in different parts of the world, debunking the myth that it is the Global North and the Western World where we should turn to for inspiration.

Skeiv Verden (Queer World) is a Norwegian national interest organization for LGBTQ+ individuals with minority backgrounds. Their goal is to work toward a society where people can live out their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression without experiencing discrimination. They hold informational courses, advocate for queer people, and host social events, such as this panel.

Bergen Pride Panel “Global Queer Rights”

On the panel moderated by Erwin Rapiz Navarro from Skeiv Verden, we discovered that unlike in Europe and the US, in certain parts of Asia the queer situation has taken a positive turn recently. Nepal, for example, is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2007, followed shortly after by the possibility to recognize third gender in official documents. At that time the court ordered the government to create a special group to discuss the possibility of same-sex marriage. Although same-sex marriage is not yet legal, a temporary solution to keep a separate marriage register for same-sex couples was ordered recently by the Nepali Supreme Court after a couple who was married abroad filed a case. From a societal standpoint, there may be some discrimination, but for the most part LGBTQ+ people are accepted. Susho highlighted that Hinduism, Nepal’s main denomination, has positive portrayals of gay people, unlike most religions, so it is something many people in Nepal are familiar with.

Panelists Sushobhan Bhandari, Amy Soto, and Anna Szlávi, with moderator Erwin Rapiz Navarro

Representing qLit, we spoke about the history of queer rights in Hungary and the current situation, shedding light on the fact that, despite how bad it is now, there were times when Hungary was progressive with LGBTQ+ rights in a global context. That is, we all need to be alert, as things can change drastically! It was encouraging to see how engaged the audience was with the topic and how many questions they asked at the end. Some even inquired how they could help the situation. We encouraged them to speak to their representatives if they are from EU countries and to pay attention to the news. Visibility is important to hold leaders accountable and to fight for LGBTQ+ rights. We also spoke about the importance of supporting and donating to organizations which work to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people, like qLit.

The inside of the Bergen Pride Park tent located in the heart of the city at Festplassen

After the panel, the evening ended with a drag show, full of kings and queens, and an opening party. Bergen Pride, like Trondheim Pride, was a very inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community, allies, and even families with children. We felt at home here, just as we do in the Budapest LGBTQ+ community. So, the main conclusion of the event is: to never forget how important it is to just show up and be together! 

Kings and queens from Haus of Friele at the opening show for Bergen Pride


This trip was funded by the EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community and co-funded by the European Union. The content of this report is the sole responsibility of qLit implementing the project, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community or the European Union.

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