The Norwegian Supreme Court Confirms Prison Sentence for Transphobic Hate Crime

Jack Molay
3 min readOct 3, 2022

Norway’s parliament outlawed hate speech against transgender people back in 2020, expanding a law that had protected gay and lesbian people since 1981. Now the Norwegian Supreme Court has confirmed that it takes this part of the law seriously.

The hate crime law now also covers “trans persons and others who have a gender identity or a gender expression that contradicts the expectations found in their environment.”

A 53 year old man from the Bergen region in Norway had been given a prison sentence and a fine for transphobic hate speech, a verdict that made its way up to the Supreme Court.

Norwegian transgender LGBT+ activist Christine Marie Jentoft reports on twitter:

“Norway now has its first Supreme Court decision regarding hate speech on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. The Supreme Court upheld that the person responsible was guilty of hate speech.

Gender identity and gender expression came into the law in 2021 and shortly after a trans woman reported a man for hate speech after an interaction on Facebook. They had argued and the man had said that (CW: transphobic language):

- Perverted man-pigs who insist that they are little girls have no defamatory power, strictly speaking. — Do you really think that a single person thinks you are a woman and not an old man with weird fantasies.

- Having said that, it is incomprehensible to me that the authorities still allow you to have care responsibilities for children. — ‘B’ [referring to the victims legal name] does not exist. It is a sick fantasy in C’s mind. [C refers to the victim’s deadname].”

The man was first convicted in the District Court in the West of Norway, then it was appealed to the Court of Appeals, who upheld the verdict.

After being appealed again to the Supreme Court, they upheld the verdict, but lowered the sentence to 15 days prison, but with a probation time of two years not needing to serve the time, and a fine of 15 000 NOK.”

This is about harassment, not free speech

The question was whether the statements were punishable under Section 185 of the Penal Code, which among other things covers hate speech made because of a person’s gender identity or gender expression.

The Supreme Court states that the threshold for punishment is the same for all the groups protected under this law.

Anti-trans activists have tried to pain the court’s decision as an attack on free speech. The court has clearly been prepared for such an argument and underlines that there is a large scope for statements related to gender identity and gender expression. What the provision covers is typically incitement and bullying with gross denigration of a person or a group as a result of their gender identity and gender expression.

The Supreme Court concludes that the comments the defendant had made on Facebook were qualified as offensive and punishable, confirming the verdicts made by the District Court and the Court of Appeal.

Link to the statement from the Norwegian supreme court, and the link to the verdict (in Norwegian).

Illustration: Rudall30

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Jack Molay

Writer and news curator looking at everything transgender, nonbinary and queer.