Norwegians are generally tolerant of alternative lifestyles, although this is less the case in rural areas. Homosexuality has been legal in Norway since 1973, and the country was the first in the world to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals. Then, in 2009, Norway became the sixth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage when its parliament passed a gender-neutral marriage law. The new law granted full rights to church weddings, adoption and artificial insemination to married couples regardless of their sexual orientation.

All of that said, public displays of affection are not common practice, except perhaps in some areas of Oslo. Oslo is generally the easiest place to be gay in Norway, although even here there have been occasional recent attacks on gay couples holding hands, especially in the central-eastern areas of the capital. You're most likely to encounter difficulties wherever conservative religious views predominate, whether among newly arrived Muslim immigrant communities or devoutly Lutheran communities in rural areas.

Oslo has the liveliest gay scene, and it's worth stopping by Use-It, where you can pick up the excellent annual Streetwise booklet with its 'Gay Guide' section.

Organisations & Websites

FRI The Norwegian National Association of Lesbian and Gay Liberation; website only in Norwegian.

Global Gayz (www.globalgayz.com/europe/norway/) The Norway page has some interesting background information and practical information.

Night Tours (www.nighttours.com/oslo/) A gay guide to the Oslo night.

Visit Oslo (www.visitoslo.com) Click on 'Gay Olso' for some useful links.