From Iceland — Proposal To Shut Down Name Committee

Proposal To Shut Down Name Committee

Published November 29, 2013

A bill has been submitted to parliament that proposes closing the Name Committee, and allowing the use of surnames.
The bill, submitted by Bright Future, proposes a number of changes to Iceland’s existing laws on names. If passed into law, instead of the use of the Name Committee to determine the legality of a name in advance, names would rather be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the event a name is believed to break the law.
Specifically, the bill proposes that “if a minister, head of a religious organisation or the National Registry believes that a first or middle name violates the law, it will be referred to the minister”. The Name Committee falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.
The bill also proposes that “each person shall attribute [their names] to their father or mother, unless that person decides to bear a surname.”
In the explanation for the bill, the co-authors argue that “a person’s name has been considered one of the most important aspects of their self-image”, and that the right of a parent to name their child what they want is “uncontroversial”.
The bill comes just days after Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr expressed annoyance with the fact that he cannot, legally, go by the surname Gnarr. The mayor’s Best Party is to merge with Bright Future for 2014 parliamentary elections.
The Name Committee is a government body which approves – or rejects – new names that parents want to add to the lexicon. The basis for their decision is usually attributed to historical precedent for the name, and how well or poorly it applies to Icelandic grammar.
The Name Committee has not been a stranger to controversy, though. Earlier this year, Reykjavík District Court decided that they violated the constitution by denying Blær Bjarkardóttir the right to use her first name.

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