Top Norway billionaire comes out as gay

Norway’s second richest billionaire, supermarket tycoon Stein Erik Hagen, has come out as gay, outing himself in front of more than two million viewers on Norway’s leading chat show.

Top Norway billionaire comes out as gay
Stein Erik Hagen (right) with openly gay businessman Christen Sveaas. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB scanpix
Hagen, 59, who built his $4.3bn fortune on the RIMI budget supermarket he founded with his father in 1977, told NRK’s Skavlan show that he had slowly come to understand his sexuality in adulthood.
“I realised I was gay well into adulthood. When I was in my 20s we didn’t know what it was. We heard about it but did not associate ourselves with it.” 
The revelation sends Hagen straight to the number two slot in the list of the world’s gay plutocrats, just behind the entertainment mogul David Geffen on $6.9bn, but ahead of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, with $2.8bn. 
Hagen, who separated from his second wife Mille-Marie Treschow in 2012 after an eight-year marriage, and has five children, said after the interview was aired that both his wives and most of his friends had long known about his sexuality.  
“To say that I’m gay is not entirely correct,” he told VG newspaper. “I’m bisexual, and to everyone in the family, all my friends and those who know me, that’s something which comes as no surprise. The same goes for those I have been married to, including Mille-Marie Treschow. She knew. And it wasn’t the reason we split up.”
Christian Sveaas, 59, who Hagen has ousted as Norway's richest openly gay man, lauded his friend's decision. 
“Those of us who know him have known this a long time, so it's not such great news for us,” he said in an email to DN newspaper.  “I can say that it's about time”. 

Bård Nylund, leader of Norway’s National Association for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, said he hoped Hagen’s example would encourage other older gay men to be open about their sexuality.

“To live a life of openness is much better than living a life in hiding,” he said. 
“I think he can be an inspiration for more and I hope that people realise that just because you wait to come out, does not mean that it’s a bad idea to come out. Come out when you’re ready. It doesn’t matter if you are 35 or 65, because choosing openness is much better than letting it be.”

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Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday agreed a draft bill that would compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination in the armed forces between 1955 and 2000.

Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination
A German flag is sewed to the uniform of a Bundeswehr soldier in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Under the proposed law, which needs to be approved by parliament, soldiers
who were convicted by military courts for being gay, demoted or who otherwise
saw their careers damaged because of their sexual orientation, would receive a
“symbolic amount” of €3,000.

“We cannot erase the suffering inflicted upon these people,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the RND newspaper group. “But we want
to send a signal” and “turn the page on a dark chapter in the history of the
armed forces”, she said.

The compensation would apply to soldiers from the Bundeswehr, which was
created in West Germany in 1955, and to troops from former East Germany's
National People's Army, founded in 1956.

READ ALSO: More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe

The defence ministry estimates that about 1,000 people would be eligible
for a payout.

Military court judgments against soldiers for engaging in consensual gay sex acts would also be quashed under the draft bill.

It took until 1969 for homosexuality to be decriminalised in West Germany, but discrimination against gay service people continued for much longer, including after Germany was reunified in 1990.

Gay soldiers could expect to be overlooked for promotions or removed from positions of responsibility, with senior officers often deeming them a “security risk” or a bad example to others.

That ended with a law change in 2000 that officially protected gay, lesbian
and bisexual people from discrimination in the armed forces.