From Iceland — "Idiot" And Other Words Removed From Icelandic Penal Code

“Idiot” And Other Words Removed From Icelandic Penal Code

Published October 20, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Anna Andersen

The Icelandic Penal Code was recently revamped to remove some of its more out-dated word choices, and replace them with more modern equivalents.

RÚV reports that amongst these proposed changes is to remove the word “idiot” and replace it with the phrase “individual with a developmental disorder”.

The out-dated “idiot” is currently used in Article 222 of the Icelandic Penal Code, which states, “Anyone who, intentionally or unwittingly, gives dangerous objects or substances to a child younger than 15 years old, a mentally ill person, an idiot or an intoxicated person will be fined or jailed”.

Other changes in word choice also pertained to people with disabilities. For example, “deaf-mute” will be replaced with “a person with combined vision and hearing impairment”. Even the word used for a person with disabilities, “fatlaður” (roughly translated as “cripple”), will be replaced with the phrase “a person with a disability”.

These changes were brought about in order to comply with the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Iceland is a signatory. Participation in this convention includes, amongst other things, updating the language used to described people with disabilities.

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