From Iceland — Queer People In Iceland Receiving Violent Threats; Hate Crime Laws Needed

Queer People In Iceland Receiving Violent Threats; Hate Crime Laws Needed

Published October 14, 2021

Photo by
samtokin78.is

Over the past few days in Iceland, numerous queer and disabled people have been receiving calls and messages on social media threatening them with violence. These threats originate from a group calling itself “Hommabanasveitin”, which roughly translates to “the gay killing squad”. While the matter has been referred to the police, Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, the director of the National Queer Organisation, points out to RÚV that Iceland does not have any laws that define hate crimes, nor are they prosecutable.

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People in this group have been using fake social media profiles to make their threats, and are believed to be comprised of at least two men and one woman. One person who received such threats in Facebook Messenger both posted screenshots of his conversations with one of these members, and recorded one of the conversations he had with this person. All of these communications express the delight this person takes in harassing and threatening queer people, claiming that he physically assaults queer people in the hopes of forcing them back in the closet.

Þorbjörg points out that harassment and violence against gay and trans people has been on the rise in neighbouring countries, based on outdated ideas about gender roles and prejudice. While physical assaults against queer people are less common in Iceland than they are in neighbouring countries, the matter is still troubling—not least of all because Iceland does not actually have any laws that even define hate crimes, let alone outline prosecution for them.

Article 233(a) of the General Penal Code does define hate speech, which is punishable by fine or jail time. Þorbjörg says that legislation is needed, quickly, to provide a legal basis for hate crimes in Iceland and help prevent them from becoming the same level of problem in Iceland that hate crimes have become in other countries.

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