From Iceland — Iceland's Naming Laws May Soon Change For The Better

Iceland’s Naming Laws May Soon Change For The Better

Published September 17, 2018

Þorsteinn Víglundsson, an MP for the Reform Party, will soon submit a bill to Parliament that would drastically change Iceland’s famously restrictive naming laws, Vísir reports. The issue concerns “individual liberty” and queer rights, Þorsteinn told reporters.

“The bill is at its core about the freedom of people to decide their own names or the names of their children, and put an end to official interference in this decision,” he said. “This is a particular issue of freedom, and what really matters are the rights of queer people to both change their names, and change their registered genders. This will significantly reduce the obstacles they face today in such a process. In a free society, we shouldn’t have government interference in what people are named or how they choose to change their names from one moment to the next.”

The bill in question is on the parliamentary schedule for tomorrow, and Þorsteinn hopes it passes quickly through committee and receives a final vote during the current parliamentary session.

As it stands now, the process for Icelanders to change their legally registered names and genders is often tedious and time-consuming. This bill would greatly simplify the process, making one’s name and gender a matter of personal choice that can be changed at will. If passed, the bill would also nullify Iceland’s existing naming laws.

Iceland’s naming laws are not only unpopular with the country’s queer population. Many have argued (most vocally, former Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr) that the current naming laws are too restrictive and anachronistic. Striking down these laws was last proposed in 2016, but failed to make its way through Parliament. All that may change this parliamentary session.

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