Making good on a promise made last year, the Icelandic government has settled ten queer Ugandan refugees just outside of Reykjavík.
RÚV reports that the refugees arrived yesterday, and have been settled in Mosfellsbær, just north of Reykjavík. The decision to invite them to Iceland was made last October, in an agreement between Mosfellsbær town council and the Ministry of Welfare.
“I think this is maybe one of the best things we’ve done in recent years,” Nína Helgadóttir, the project manager for refugee matters at the Red Cross, told RÚV. “That we have welcomed queer people with open arms, and that the public perception has changed so much.”
Before arriving in Iceland, the refugees had been living in Nairobi, in neighbouring Kenya. This is due to Uganda’s harsh anti-LGBT legislation, which criminalises homosexuality and trans folk alike. Interestingly, shortly after a round of anti-LGBT legislation was passed in Uganda in 2014, Norway and Denmark opted to cut aid to the country, while Iceland’s Foreign Minister at the time, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, lobbied instead to send half a billion ISK to Uganda.
“It’s of course an unbelievable event to pack up and move so far north into a very different society,” Nina said. “But in the end, deep down we’re all the same.”