Gammelt billede af en demonstration i København. LGBT+ personer demonstrerer med bannere og i baggrunden ses Københavns Rådhus

LGBT+ History

Denmark’s LGBT+ history is a story of oppression, invisibility, resistance, union, and victories. Homosexuality was considered a crime in Denmark until 1933 – at least for men. Danish Law from 1683 stated: “Association against nature is punished with fire”. Ordinary Danish Penal Code 1866 replaced the death penalty (fire) with reformatory work. Only with the Civil Penalties Act of 1930 (which was in effect from January 1st, 1933) was sex between adult men over 18 (21) years decriminalized. In this timeline, you can read about how the personal became political, a movement united and fought for the right to be who you are.

The overview is based on the article “LBL and other Danish gay movements”, which Inge-Lise Paulsen and Vibeke Nissen wrote for Lambda Nordica in 2000. It has since been supplemented and is continuously updated by the LGBT+ Library

Fem tegnede personer omfavner hinanden i en rundkreds

The Circle of 1948 is founded in Aalborg. The idea takes shape on Midsummer’s Eve 1948, so June 23rd is considered the founding day. The idea behind and driving force of the association came from Axel Lundahl Madsen, later Axel Axgil.

From the start it addresses both homosexuals and bisexuals. The purpose of the association is described as follows: Through personal acquaintance and correspondence, to make connections and create a free association of people who feel solidarity with other people with the same attitude towards homosexual and bisexual issues, as well as support and help them in any difficulties. After World War II there is a focus on democratic values ​​and rights, and homosexuals begin to organize. Unlike the other groups that were persecuted during the war, homosexuals are not included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

The pink triangle, which has subsequently been used by homosexual organizations worldwide, was the symbol gay men in the concentration camps wore on their prison uniforms. Lesbians wore a black triangle.


The Circle of 1948 changes its name to the Association of 1948 after objection from a nunnery that believes it has exclusive rights to the name “Circle (Kredsen)”.

The Association of 1948 publishes the first issue of the journal “Vennen”. The magazine functioned as a member’s magazine from 1949 to 1952. The editor is Helmer Fogedgaard, Rudkøbing, under the pseudonym Homophilos. “Vennen” was published until 1970. For the last several years, Martin Elmer was editor.

The Copenhagen Police form a special unit to deal with cases of homosexuality. Many men are arrested for masturbating in public toilets.


The Association of 1948 holds its first general assembly. Axel Lundahl Madsen is elected as chairman. The number of members has already reached over 600 and the following year reaches close to 1500 people.


The world’s first successful gender reassignment surgery is carried out at Rigshospitalet with great press coverage of 26-year-old Christine Jorgensen, former American soldier.


The new member’s magazine “Pan” is being launched. For half a dozen years it has also been a members’ magazine in Norway and Sweden. “Pan – the magazine for gays”, “Pan – the magazine for gays and lesbians”, “Pan-bladet” or “Panbladet” is published with occasional interruptions until the end of 2007 and is temporarily revived with three more issues in 2009. From 2001 there is also an online version: 


“The big pornography affair” means that a very large number of men are arrested and sentenced to prison terms. Axel Lundahl Madsen is sentenced to 1 year in prison, Eigil Eskildsen (later Eigil Axgil) to 18 months in prison. The Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet estimates that between 30 and 70 people commit suicide to not be processed by the Copenhagen Police.


The number of members in the Association of 1948 has drastically dropped. After the police intervention, only a few people dare to sign up.


The Danish Parliament passes “The Ugly Law”, which criminalizes the customer in prostitution of men under the age of 21, and the payment may just need to be a pack of cigarettes or money for a taxi home.

To tegnede figurer river et skilt over med teksten "den grimme lov"


After great political work from the Association of 1948 and support from some politicians and parts of the press, the mood in the Danish Parliament is turned. “The Ugly Law” is rolled back.


The provisions of the Penal Code on prostitution are made equal for heterosexual and homosexual relationships.


The Minister of Justice maintains that the police must intervene if two men are seen dancing together. The dance ban was not lifted until 1973.


After 20 years of applications, the Association of 1948 is entered into the Register of Associations and is thus recognized by the authorities. The recording takes place under the name “National Association of Homophiles” with the co-name “The Association of 1948”.

Riots at the Stonewall Inn in Christopher Street, New York, mark a new beginning in the gay liberation and equality movement. Instead of seeking to be recognized on the terms of the surrounding society, gays and lesbians are now fighting for liberation and realization on their own terms. Since Stonewall, lesbians and gays around the world have marked the gay movement every year at Gay-Pride events on Christopher Street Day at the end of June. In Copenhagen, Pride was moved to August in 1999.


The Association of 1948 establishes the disco Pan Club in restaurant Maritime in Nybrogade 28. In the 1950s, the association’s club and dance venue was Ølandshus in Amager, later i.e., El Toro Negro and Lille Rosenborg or Pink Club in Åbenrå 33.


Bøssernes Befrielsesfront or BBF (The Gay Liberation Front) is formed. The association is too bourgeois and homosexual according to the BBF, who distance themselves from the “proper” and, in their opinion, self-oppressive term homosexual. Instead, they choose to use the slur “bøsse”. Aggressively, BBF links politics and sexuality. The aim is to raise sexual-political awareness among the gays and to inform the public about gay politics, i.e., in the form of street actions and gay parades around the country. From 1972 they decorate Bøssehuset in Christiania, hold Monday meetings, start affinity groups. Later Bøssekoret (the Gay Choir), Bøsserup Pigegarde (girl guard) and Den Storkøbenhavnske Bøssescene with well-attended cabaret performances. After 2006, Bøssehuset is a membership association for LGBT people.


The two-year anniversary of Stonewall in New York 1969 is marked in Copenhagen with meetings, speeches, and protests. The first Danish Christopher Street Liberation Day, which has since been held every year in different forms. From the 1990s under the name pride (see 1996).

To tegnede figurer danser


Lesbisk Bevægelse or LB (The Lesbian Movement) is formed by active lesbians from Rødstrømpe Bevægelsen (Red Stocking Movement) and the Association of 1948. The home is Kvindehuset. LB publishes the magazine “Kvinder-Kvinder” (Women-Women) until 1978 and from 1982 “Hvidløgspressen”. Organizes lesbian weeks at thee Femø camp and is active in the Women’s Collegd. Out of breath around 1990.

In Denmark, the gay movement grows in the 1970s, both in and outside of the Association of 1948. From the end of the 1970s, local branches are established, and the association opens discos and cafés in several cities, the so-called Pan-clubs, which it runs until they are divested in 1994 as part of the clean-up after the national association’s financial downturn.


The age of consent for homosexual relationships is established as equal to the one for heterosexual ones at 15 years, as the Danish Parliament repeals section 225 subsection of the Criminal Code 2: Whoever practices sexual immorality with a person of the same sex under the age of 18 is punished with imprisonment of up to four years.


The Association of 1948 is a co-founder of ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association.


The association sells its premises at the address Åbenrå 33 in Copenhagen and acquires parts of the property Knabrostræde 3. Here the activities flourish in the following years with a library and archive, Radio Rosa, counseling, Pan Information, evening school and Pan Idræt (sport) as well as many other social and cultural activities. The bar, café, and disco abecomes the hottest places in Copenhagen.

En tegnet person streger "homoseksualitet" af sygdomslisten


The National Board of Health removes homosexuality from the Danish list of mental illnesses. “Gå-Ud-Gruppen” is set up as a supplementary offer to primary school sexual health education to inform the oldest classes in primary school about homosexuality.


The name is changed to “Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske or LBL (National Association for Gays and Lesbians), Association of 1948″. Five years earlier, it was changed from “Association of 1948 – national association for homosexuals” to “Association of 1948 – national association for gays and lesbians”. 


The library for gays and lesbians opens after many years of establishing the book collection.

Radio Rosa is established in Copenhagen as one of the country’s first local radio stations. Radio Rosa is active until closing in the summer of 2010.

The term ‘registered partnership’ was created by the National Association for Gays and Lesbians in a proposal for legislation that the association presented in 1983. The name is the only thing that survives from that proposal, but in turn, it became an international standard. 


Pan Idræt (Pan Sports) is founded. Originally as a department of LBL, later an independent association. Initially a swimming club, but many more sports soon followed. In 2013, there are almost 20 different sports from ashtanga yoga, dance, golf and rowing to triathlon and rugby. 


The Danish Parliament approves a law which equates cohabiting persons of the same sex with spouses in terms of inheritance tax.

The Parliament’s commission for elucidating the situation of homosexuals in society publishes the statement ‘Want or Necessity? – women’s and men’s homosexuality’. The work of the Gay Commission leads to several legislative initiatives, including the registered partnership. A majority in the commission ends up recommending that a partnership not be introduced, but the opposition in the Parliament puts forward and passes the law (see 1989). 

Activists in LBL form the Stop AIDS Campaign (Stop AIDS – Bøssernes HIV-organisation) and AIDS-Linien. Encouraged by the national association, the Danish HIV/AIDS policy is based on voluntarism, anonymity, and clear information. From 1994, Stop AIDS becomes an independent institution and was merged on January 1st, 2012, with AIDS Fondet, AIDS-Linien and the counseling part of HIV-Danmark.

Initiators in LBL start the Copenhagen Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which in 2011 changes its name to MIX Copenhagen, LesbianGayBiTrans Film Festival 


The Danish Parliament approves amendments to the Criminal Code and the Act on Prohibition of Discrimination, so that it is prohibited to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  



The Gay Commission submits its report ‘Conditions of homosexuals’. 

To tegnede personer indgår i et registreret partnerskab


The Danish Parliament passes the Act on Registered Partnerships. The law is the first of its kind in the world, and the Danish registered partnership sets precedent for the work in other countries: During the 1990s the other Nordic countries introduce similar legislation, other countries follow suit, and several of them go on to marriage, so that the leading country, Denmark, is left behind.

The very first registered partnership was registered between LGBT Danmark’s founder Axel and his fiancé of 40 years, Eigil Axgil. 


End of the happy days for LBL in Knabrostræde. Finances have run out. Suspension of payments while bankruptcy threatens but is averted. The premises are sold, the bar operation ceases, and a cheaper place to live is sought. 


LBL moves into the back house at Teglgårdstræde 13 and fills all floors of the building with a book café/meeting room, library and archive, offices, The member’s magazine “Pan”, Radio Rosa and other activities. 


The Danish Parliament passes a law prohibiting direct or indirect discrimination in the labor market on grounds of sexual orientation (as well as race, skin colour, religion or belief, political affiliation, age, disability or national, social, or ethnic origin).

Effective combination therapy against HIV is finally bringing down the number of AIDS cases and deaths, but the number of infected people continues to grow.

Copenhagen is the European City of Culture and home to this year’s Europride. From 1998 it is called Mermaid Pride and from 2004 Copenhagen Pride. From 1999, Copenhagen Pride is moved from June to August. In 2009, it blossoms festively for the occasion of the World Outgames with sports, culture, and conference. 


A committee of bishops recommends a ritual for the blessing of registered partnerships, but the bishops choose not to follow the recommendation. 

The Danish Parliament passes the Act on Artificial Insemination with section 3, which prohibits the treatment of lesbians and single women. Only the heterosexual nuclear family can get the go-ahead. 


The Danish Parliament rejects the proposal to remove section 3 from the Act on Artificial Insemination. It happens again in 2000. 


Paragraph 3 of the 1997 law on artificial insemination prohibits medical treatment, but a midwife is allowed to perform the insemination, and Nina Stork opens StorkKlinik, where several hundred lesbians have since been inseminated.

LBL begins the publication of a new magazine Zink. The publication stops again after two years. 

By revising the law on registered partnerships, Denmark becomes the first country in the world to recognize two legal parents of the same sex, as registered partners will have access to stepchild adoption. However, it is only a partial solution, and although there have been made adjustments since then, the legislation is still not in order at the start of 2013. 

Simultaneously, persons from countries with partnership legislation are given the same rights as Danish citizens, just as foreigners who have lived in Denmark for at least two years are given the opportunity to enter into a registered partnership.  

LBL establishes an International Department. It maintains the relationships with ILGA (The International Lesbian and Gay Association) and ILGA-Europe,with the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN. With the Global South initiative, LGBT aspects are taken care of in the global south and in Danish development policy. 


At LBL’s national assembly, a new political program is adopted that invites bisexuals inside. 


LBL initiates a network for parents and other family members of homosexuals and bisexuals: The Parent Network, later Family and Friends. 


LBL’s initiative in relation to ethnic minority homosexuals, Salon Oriental, receives the Copenhagen Municipality’s Integration Award. Salon Oriental ceases a few years later. Cultural, political, and social activities for LGBT people, who are also ethnic minorities, are continued by Sabaah (new day or new beginning), founded in 2006. Sabaah owns the cultural center “Kifak” in The Meatpacking District. 


The Danish Parliament approves, with 53 votes for and 52 against, giving lesbians the right to artificial insemination. Finally, after nine years of fighting, they succeeded in getting section 3 removed. 

The UN’s Economic and Social Council grants NGO status to three gay/lesbian organizations: ILGA-Europe, Danish LBL and German LSVD. 

To tegnede, gravide par står overfor hinanden med en stork i mellem dem


After 12 years in Teglgårdstræde, LBL moves to a cheaper rental in Nygade 7 in Copenhagen to save itself from yet another financial crisis. The publication of Panbladet stops for the time being.

On the 2nd floor in Nygade there are offices, a reception, and meeting rooms and on the 4th floor a meeting room for the groups. There is no space for the library, archive, and Radio Rosa. The archive is handed over to the National Archives. The library is closed for a year. Radio Rosa rents premises in Valby from April 2008 until the radio ceases in the summer of 2010. 

The national chairman, national treasurer and two national management members resign. There are major cooperation difficulties due to the financial situation. The national assembly votes no to the report and instructs a temporary management to hold an extraordinary national assembly within 3 months. 


The extraordinary national assembly decides to include trans people in the association, and elects a new national leadership. Copenhagen Municipality invites LBL and friends to town hall pancakes. The association celebrates its 60th anniversary and opens the anniversary exhibition in the town hall: From Sachsenhausen to Yogyakarta – the history of rights. 

7,357 people live in a registered partnership in Denmark, 420 are the longest-living partner (widow/widower), and for 1,626 the partnership has been dissolved. 4499 women and 4904 men are or have been involved in a registered partnership. 

The national assembly approves a new structure that “slims” down all the association’s departments with the exception of LBL Ungdom (Youth), but without affecting the many social activities. At the same time, a Strategic Forum is set up with the political spokespeople as well as the national leadership and representatives from the counselling departments, social groups, and the youth department. 

The library opens in a reduced version in two of the meeting rooms on the 2nd floor in Nygade after having been closed for more than a year since the move from Teglgårdstræde. 

En tegnet person tilføjer "T" til LGB


LBL has a profit of DKK 248.425,00 in the accounts of 2008 and pays off the debt nicely by tightly managing expenses. The association has moved from expensive rental properties in both Copenhagen and Aarhus and no longer employs paid staff. 

LBL Ungdom publishes a large edition of the magazine shOUT about sexuality, prejudices, about love, falling in love, and sex to schools across the country. 

The Danish Parliament passes a bill which improves the conditions for a large group of rainbow families. In lesbian couples who have children through artificial insemination, the co-mother can adopt the child via stepchild-adoption already at birth and does not have to wait three months as previously. 

World Outgames in Copenhagen with lots of participants and guests for sports, culture, Pride, parties, and an international human rights conference, which LBL is co-organizing. 

New major survey of the situation and living conditions of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people is presented, carried out by CASA on behalf of LBL and World Outgames 2009. 

As a consequence of LBL now including bisexuals and transgender people, the national assembly unanimously adopts a new name: LGBT Danmark – The National Association for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender people. 


The Danish Parliament decides that homosexuals can apply to adopt on equal terms with heterosexuals. The bill is passed by a majority outside the government (60 votes for, 54 against) by a combined opposition along with five members of Venstre (the Liberal Party). 


For the first time, the LGBT+ area is mentioned in a Danish government document, with a whole section about gender-neutral marriage, efforts against hate crimes, the rights of co-mothers and new rules for gender-affirming treatment, including legal gender reassignment. 


With 85 votes for, 24 against and 2 abstentions, the Danish Parliament passes the law on gender-neutral marriage. And included is also marriage through the Danish church. Until now, marriage has only been for opposite-sex couples, while since 1989 same-sex couples have been able to enter into a registered partnership. The situation regarding children has not been resolved at this point but will be addressed with an imminent revision of the law on the legal effects of marriage. 


The Danish Parliament passes a ground-breaking Children’s Act, which covers a wide range of rainbow family types. It is no longer necessary with stepchild-adoption to become a legal parent, and a man, a woman and her female partner can enter into an agreement as to whether it will be the man or the partner who legally recognizes the parentage of a child that the man and woman have with each other. 

The Refugee Board decides that LGBT+ persons who receive asylum in Denmark must be considered refugees in the sense of the Refugee Convention and receive convention status rather than protection status. 

LGBT Danmark starts its first project in Tanzania with support for local LGBT+ organizations. 


Denmark makes it possible to choose your own legal gender as the first country in Europe and the third country in the world. The new procedure means that transgender people, after a 6-month reflection period, can decide for themselves to change their legal gender and receive a new social security number. This is now possible without surgery, without diagnosis, and without assessment of e.g., medical staff. LGBT Denmark offers counseling group sessions for young trans people and young people with challenges regarding their gender identity. 

For the past three years’ legislative initiatives, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt receives LGBT Danmark’s recognition in the form of the Laks of the year. The 25th anniversary of the registered partnership is celebrated with an exhibition at Copenhagen City Hall. 


A trans woman wins the first court case in the country on discrimination in the labor market due to gender expression and gender identity. Partnering up with LGBT Danmark the trade union publishes information and tools on the equality of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans people in the workplace. With the survey LGBT health, the Institute for Public Health showcase major challenges for bisexuals and transgender people.  


The CPR office wins the Laks of the year for the construction of the new documents to the applicants of social security number change in connection with legal gender change. 

Slottet care home in Copenhagen can now call itself Denmark’s first LGBT care home. The new profile will make it easier for older LGBT people to be open about their lives, sexuality, and gender identity. 

LGBT Danmark publishes the second edition of the LGBT dictionary with over 500 terms. The dictionary is freely available at In December, the Danish Health Authority issues new guidance on the investigation and treatment of transgender people, after which it is no longer possible for transgender people to receive hormone treatment from private practicing gynecologists. In the future you must first go through a longer investigation at Sexologisk Klinik (Clinic of Sexology) to get approved for the treatment. 


From January, a treatment service is established for transgender children and young people. The first transgender child in Denmark starts treatment with hormone blockers in May 2016. 

The Ministry of Education changes the rules so that educational institutions will be obliged to issue new diplomas to people who have had a legal gender change. The Council for Human Rights in Denmark awards this year’s human rights award to transgender activists because they have created visibility and debate in Denmark about transgender rights, gender stereotypes and gender roles. 

LGBT Danmark continues and develops the three projects in Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda. The projects aim to strengthen local LGBT organizations and individuals in their fight for rights and security. 40 percent of all LGBT people hide their identity and sexual orientation when they are at work. For this reason, LGBT Danmark now offers public and private workplaces the Empathic Labor Market program. 

The government creates a new ministerial area with a coordinating function and announces an action plan for LGBT issues. 


As the first country in the world, Denmark removes trans diagnoses from the list of diseases. Until then, to gain access to treatment in the healthcare system, you had to have a diagnosis – a diagnosis which was in the section on mental health and behavioral disorders. Treatment for adult trans and gender-diverse people is moved out of Sexologisk Klinik, which continues to investigate and provide treatment for young people under 18. Center for Kønsidentitet (Center for Gender Identity) is established in Copenhagen and Aalborg for people over 18. Practicing gynecologists and endocrinologists are given the opportunity to administer hormone treatment to transgender people after examination at one of the centers or Sexologisk Klinik. 

LGBT Danmark and LGBT+ Ungdom create local AURA communities for young people who exist outside the norms of gender and sexual orientation.