A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015

An Historical Day to Be Gay

Published July 14, 2006

Ten years ago, a law was passed in Iceland that allowed homosexual couples to enter into a civil union. Four years later, in 2000, they were granted the right to adopt the biological children of their partner. On June 27, 2006, a new law was passed in the Icelandic parliament that finally placed homosexual couples on equal footing with heterosexual couples. They are now allowed to register their partnership, and have the same rights as anybody else when it comes to adoption and artificial reproduction procedures. This eliminates almost all discrimination against homosexuals in the system, with the exception of being allowed to register as a couple in religious organisations, which is still not possible. This milestone in the history of gay rights in Iceland was celebrated at the Reykjavík Art Museum on June 30th. The Prime Minister of Iceland and a member of parliament, among others, addressed the crowd. Three people who were more than just proud to attend the event discussed their thoughts on the legislation, politics and their plans to get married. They are artist Kristín Eysteinsdóttir, Hrafnkell Tjörvi Stefánsson, the managing director of Samtökin ’78 (The Icelandic Association for Lesbians and Gay Men) Hrafnkell Tjörvi, and Davíð Jóhannsson, a group leader at Síminn telephone company (Iceland Telecom).

What does this legislation mean to you? Is it important to you?

Eysteinsdóttir: This means an incredible amount to me. I now have the same options when it comes to my relationships as heterosexuals do. I have lesbian friends who, up until now, had to go to Denmark to get artificially inseminated, which is both expensive and complicated. It’s not exactly easy to drop whatever you’re doing and jump on a plane whenever you’re ovulating. I think this will have an even bigger impact on homosexual men, because they now have the option to adopt children and start a family.

Jóhannsson: Overall, I think this legislation was long overdue. It is definitely important to me, but not in praxis at this point in my life. Perhaps in the future, if I plan on having kids.

Stefánsson: Personally, I’m very happy that I live in a civilised society that is leading in the world when it comes to human rights. What pleases me most is that there was cross-political solidarity on the issue. It’s completely unique. Few other countries have come as far as Iceland has, but it’s unheard of that all political parties agree on furthering gay rights under a right-wing government. It’s proof of good will and understanding.

How was it to finally register as a couple?

Eysteinsdóttir: I went to the registry office and applied, and the lady behind the counter asked me: “Is he here with you?” I didn’t even understand what she meant at first, I thought she was referring to my father or something, but then I realised that she probably thought my partner was male. I replied that my partner is a woman, and the lady instantly apologised. She wasn’t prejudiced. She just wasn’t used to it.

What’s the next issue for the gay rights movement in Iceland?

Stefánsson: Legislation is one thing, public acceptance is another. A majority of our nation supports gay rights, but passing laws is not enough. For example, men and women are supposed to be equal under the law, but equality has still not been achieved in many cases. The same thing can be said of disabled people and those who are not of Caucasian origin. Homophobia needs to be addressed in various places, for example in sports. We also need to change things in the education system, by including different family types in the curriculum and educating people about them.

Eysteinsdóttir: I think the church is at the centre of the debate. A lot of homosexuals are religious, and everybody should have the same options. Fríkirkjan (The Independent Church) blesses homosexual marriages, setting a good example other churches should follow. A majority of our society supports gay rights, and the church should try to keep up with the people. My partner and I are getting married in August. When we tell people about it, we often get the response, “Good for you, that’s such a statement.” It makes us feel like we’re getting married for political reasons, which is not true. We’re getting married because we want to. This is an example of hidden prejudice in our society, which still exists.

Jóhannsson: I’m very pleased with the recent change in events. It’s time to stop and take a deep breath. We need to realise that perhaps we don’t always need to be fighting for something. I think we should allow this to settle before we start focusing on the next step. I’m very happy with what just happened.



Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

One Day in October (During Master’s Month)

by

 On the occasion of the last day of October, known by some as “Master’s Month,” blogger Charlie Marlowe recounts his mostly futile attempts to become a master.  October 07, 2014: The day before yesterday, in honour of the glorious tradition of Master’s Month*, I decided that I would take the necessary pains to acquire a slew of new and useful habits—habits that would put me on the road to becoming a more successful, a more likeable, and altogether more estimable version of myself. A better me, in effect; a better better me. Having made this decision, I set my alarm clock

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Brotherly Love

by

My brother is a fourteen-carat, stone cold wanker. At age twelve he spoke fluent French, at fourteen he was the fastest 100-metre runner in Ireland for his age, at eighteen, he captained our school choir and won a scholarship to university for academic excellence, by nineteen he spoke fluent mandarin. My name’s Tom and I’m his older brother. Yesterday I started putting raisins into my porridge. Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients that can improve your ability to see in the dark, and in Iceland around this time of year I reckon that it’s a shrewd bit of thinking. But society wouldn’t notice.

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Lost In Mucous

by

The first time I heard it, I did what all good girls do and politely ignored it. The second time, I shot him a look of disgust. By the third time, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt like I was going to be sick. I cast a crazed eye around the room, but to my shock nobody else seemed bothered by the fact that a certain member of the Grapevine team, let’s call him Bill (because we have a Bob), has a penchant for sniffling and snorting large globules of mucous down the back of his throat. HAD HIS MOTHER

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Audiomilk And Book Mafias

by

In short: Only the privileged few A large number of Icelandic books are available as audio books at the audio books library. Available, in this case, however, means available to those who need them rather than those who would merely enjoy them. The audio book library is publicly funded and to some extent exempt from copyright restrictions, to serve blind and dyslexic audiences. Last week saw a mild debate involving non-blind and non-dyslexic readers who would nonetheless like to be able to buy these audio editions; the manager of the library who explained how absolutely nonsensical and futile not to

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Accidental Iceland

by

I don’t have the sharpest social skills but I know when someone is making a joke at my expense. My travel agent was clearly making a joke at my expense: “I know you won’t fly through Heathrow or JFK and I know you will ‘never get on another Delta plane as long as you live,’ but of course you want the cheapest fare possible. The cheapest roundtrip ticket from New York to London is Icelandair with a slight layover in Reykjavík.” I had several pertinent questions for my travel agent and she answered with an exaggerated patience that made me

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

You’re Wet, And You’re Cold, And You’re Miserable

by

You’ve just come in for the day. Your clothes are strewn across the radiator. Your anorak is hanging in the bathroom. It’s creating a giant puddle on the floor. Oh, and you’ve just stepped in it with your last pair of dry socks. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s gray. It’s late October in Reykjavík. You’re kicking yourself for not choosing to visit during the summer, but as some Pollyanna told you, at least this way you’re getting the authentic Icelandic experience. Well, you should know that it wouldn’t have made much difference if you had come during the summer. It

Show Me More!