From Iceland — Rainbow Flag Vandalism At Church Is Part Of Larger Setback In Struggle For LGBTQ+ Rights

Rainbow Flag Vandalism At Church Is Part Of Larger Setback In Struggle For LGBTQ+ Rights

Published July 27, 2022

Photo by
Grafarvogur Church/Facebook

The rainbow flag painted in front of Grafarvogur Church has been vandalised again, according to a post on the church’s Facebook page.

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Someone scrawled “LEVITICUS 20:13” on the flag, which is a reference to a passage the Bible that says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they both commit an abomination. They shall both be put to death. The guilt of their blood shall come upon them.”

The church’s post points out that in the same chapter of Leviticus, there are various provisions that people should be put to death for other reasons, such as cursing their father or mother, sleeping with someone related to them, or if a man sleeps with a woman during her period.

“We at Grafarvogur Church prefer to follow the message of Jesus Christ, who told us to love one another. We believe that every human being is God’s beloved creation who is allowed to live the life he/she was meant to live,” the post reads.

“The message of Jesus Christ is fully in line with human rights declarations, and we at Grafarvog Church stand with human rights and fight against hatred and prejudice.”

Last week, the word “Antichrist” was scrawled on the flag, according to RÚV. Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir, parish priest at Grafarvog Church, told the news agency that she feels there has been a setback in the struggle for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, as there are repeated reports of prejudice against the community.

The National Church was late in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights, but in recent years has positioned itself as a powerful ally, Bishop Secretary Pétur Georg Markan told RÚV. He believes that recent examples of hate speech directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community and the church are a reaction to this clear stance.

Pétur reported that he and his wife, Margréti Lilja Vilmundardóttir, a priest in the Free Church in Hafnarfjörður, received an anonymous letter in the mail where they are called “degenerates” because of their support for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Pétur believes it is likely the same person who vandalised the flag at Grafarvog could be behind the letter as well.

Pétur says the National Queer Association (Samtökin ’78) has led amazing changes in societal attitudes in recent decades. “It must be admitted that the church was late. But the churhc has now positioned itself as one of the queer community’s most powerful allies, as it should be. But then cases like this can arise,” he says.

There has been some talk about a setback in the struggle for the rights of gay people recently, and the chairman of the Samtökin ’78 said on RÚV’s evening news yesterday that prejudice against gay people is growing in Iceland. Pétur agrees with those concerns.

“This is not just a setback for the queer community, but for society as a whole—a society that wants to be liberal and open,” says Pétur.

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