From Iceland — New Intersex Treatment Bill Criticised By Former Prime Minister

New Intersex Treatment Bill Criticised By Former Prime Minister

Published October 2, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, chairman of the Centre Party and former Prime Minister of Iceland, has criticised the government’s plan to ban the ‘treatment’ of intersex people, DV reports.

Sigmundur says that it is ridiculous that the government intends to stop parents and health professionals from “curing” intersex children and that the bill is probably the “scariest” parliamentary issue of recent times.

The bill proposes that “permanent changes to the atypical gender characteristics of children under the age of 16, without consent, will only be permitted for health reasons, and only after a thorough procedure and assessment of the need for the changes and their consequences.”

Sigmundur has been harshly criticised for his speech in Alþingi, in which he stated “Judging by the description, this is probably the scariest parliamentary issue I can remember in recent times. It seems to stand in the way of banning children from taking necessary and life-enhancing measures. Babies can be born with various birth defects. Sometimes there is nothing to do about it, but fortunately modern science allows us to improve many of them. It is now proposed that no action should be taken to repair, cure, prescribed organs, or so-called atypical sex symptoms.”

Speaking to Fréttablaðið, director of the National Queer Organisation Þor­björg Þorvaldsdóttir struck back against Sigmundur, pointing out that Iceland is a party to the UN Human Rights Council agreement to protect the rights of intersex people.

“This is the most extremist talk I have ever heard,” she said of Sigmundur’s remarks. “He wants, in other words, that we continue to perform unnecessary surgeries on children who have no say in the matter,” adding that protecting the rights of these children has not until now been a political matter.

“This bill is the result of a great deal of work,” she said. “Work that doctors have been involved with. So this is not a poorly-constructed bill, on the contrary. This has been worked on very thoroughly so this criticism from him is just being pulled out of thin air.”

As reported, protecting intersex children from non-consensual, medically unnecessary and purely cosmetic surgeries were supposed to be a part of last year’s gender determination law, but were removed in committee. As the intersex bill comes from the Prime Minister’s office, its passage is all but certain—no matter what Sigmundur has to say on the matter.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!