Norway will prioritise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees
Norway is to prioritise refugees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, the government has confirmed.
LGBT+ refugees will, for the first time, be given priority both as a group and individuals when Norway selects for transfers.
Under previous guidelines, vulnerable women and children were given priority.
The new rules will only apply for the transfer of refugees from one asylum country to another for permanent resettlement.
Officials say the move protects LGBT rights in Norway, recognising that persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation may be a reason for moving.
"Unfortunately, in many countries, you are not free to love who you want," said State Secretary for Integration Affairs in the Ministry of Education, Grunde Kreek Almeland.
"In nearly 70 countries, homosexuality is criminal and those who violate gender and sexuality norms may be subject to persecution and discrimination in their home country".
“We are now changing the guidelines for the work of transfer refugees so that [LGBT] person ... should be given priority.”
Polish MEP Sylwia Spurek added her praise, tweeting on Thursday that "every country should approach human rights in this way".
But activists have warned that the guidelines must also be strictly implemented in practice.
In their annual report, ILGA-Europe ranked Norway fifth in the continent for LGBT+ human rights in 2020, including an 84% rating for asylum issues.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the international settlement of asylum seekers across the world.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UHNCR) and the United Nations International Organisation for Migration are hoping to resume global operations for refugees after a temporary halt.
In 2020, Norway was set a "floating quota" to welcome 3,000 transfer refugees each year.