Denmark introduces local citizenship ceremonies with mandatory handshaking

In June 2018, the Danish government (the Liberals, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives) entered into a new naturalisation agreement with the Social Democrats and the Danish People’s Party. The agreement provided for a number of restrictions and introduced a mandatory citizenship ceremony. As a result, following an amendment of the Danish legislation, applicants for naturalisation will (first) become Danish citizens by participating in a local citizenship ceremony, signing a declaration on compliance with the Danish Constitution and shaking hands with an official.

The handshaking requirement is controversial, especially because some people for religious reasons do not want to get into physical contact with others outside their close relations, in particular others of the opposite sex. Thus, the obligatory handshaking requirement raises human rights questions, among others on the right to equal access citizenship and to freedom of religion.

The Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration acknowledges that some applicants may see the handshaking requirement as a restriction of their access to Danish citizenship and their freedom to religion. However, the ministry finds that the requirement is proportional, non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory, arguing that it is a fundamental Danish value to show respect for others, among other things by shaking hands.

For details concerning Danish citizenship laws, check our country profile pages or contact the author of this news info and our country expert Eva Ersbøll.