Very Few Ministers Would Evoke "Freedom Of Conscience" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Very Few Ministers Would Evoke “Freedom Of Conscience”

Published October 3, 2015

Photos by
Helgi Halldórsson

Only two ministers reached in a new poll said they would evoke the exemption to refuse to marry a same-sex couple.

153 ministers registered with the national church were contacted to respond to a new poll conducted by Fréttablaðið, which asked if they would evoke the so-called “freedom of conscience” exemption afforded to ministers to refuse to marry a same-sex couple.

108 ministers said they would not use the exemption, and would marry the couple. 11 ministers did not want to take part in the poll, and one said they were undecided. Two ministers said they would evoke the exemption. 31 ministers were unreachable.

Hilmar Hildar Magnúsarson, the director of the National Queer Organisation, recently told Vísir that priests should not have the right to discriminate for religious reasons.

“First and foremost, we’re talking about a public office offering a public service,” he told reporters. “This is a clear case of discrimination against the country’s citizens.” He added that it makes no difference if only very few ministers evoke the exemption. “Whether it’s one minister or a hundred, this is a matter of principle.”

As such, the organisation is exploring their options, which include taking the national church to court. Bjargar Valgeirsdóttur, a lawyer for the organisation, says that the exemption is a clear example of discrimination based on sexual preference and orientation, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Hildur Eir Bolladóttir, a minister for the national church, agrees, and issued a heartfelt statement to that effect.

“Although I am a Christian, and Jesus is my spiritual compass, there are of course numerous other religions in the world, and their followers look to their saviors the same way I do mine,” she wrote. “Religion is the anchor and lifesaver of many, but it still does not trump human rights. To love your spouse, and express that with your constitutionally guaranteed right to marry trumps religion. This is why the church cannot hide behind this freedom of conscience nonsense.”

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