Skylar Kergil.

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where other people, who don‘t know anything about you, are discussing whether or not you should be granted the same basic rights as anyone else?

If you have,  you probably belong to a minority in one way or another.

This whole concept is wrong, in so many ways. First off, why should anyone have to live with a stripped downed version of human rights? It automatically means that people are divided into different classes, depending on their individual worth as a human being.

"Sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to move. These seats are for first class passengers only."
“Sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to move. These seats are reserved for first class passengers only.”

This is not a new idea. All over the world, people have been demoted from respected human beings, to second (or lower) class citizens, based on their origins, believes and so on. And this has been happening for centuries. Probably all the way since the first pre-human spotted that the tribe in the next valley had different colored eyes.

So debating human rights for minorities is, in that sence, only a slippery slope away from ethnic cleansing. I do not choose these words lightly, nor do I assume that everyone taking part in such a debate has bad intentions.

Quite the opposite. I believe  most of them feel their opinions are basis for a successful, well structured society. It‘s just that there will never be a problem so small or so big that limitations to human rights will solve it.

Another problem with such a debate is that there are generally two opposing sides, and one has to be against. Even though they have no real stake, or even understanding of the matter at hand.

But hey, as long as their intentions are for the greater good, right?

Example #1:

Anti-abortion crusading Ohio Republican lawmaker Jim Buchy.
Anti-abortion crusading Ohio Republican lawmaker Jim Buchy.

Jim Buchy is an Ohio State representative who was advocating extreme anti-abortion legislation for his state. In an interview in 2012, for the Al Jazeera documentary The Abortion War, he was asked the most simple question by a reporter:

What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?

Buchy was speechless. This was a totally new idea to him. In a nutshell, his answer (after wrestling with his tounge for a while) was: „I don‘t know. I‘m not a woman. I‘ve never thought about it.“

See for yourself, by clicking here.

 

Transgender rights vs. Freedom of speech?

Last January (!), a law was passed in Iceland that protects transgender people against many kinds of discrimination and oppression.

Of the 63 members of parliament, 53 voted „yes“, 7 were absent and 3 were present but did not vote. Why? Because they felt the law violated freedom of speech.

They might have had a point, under different circumstances. Because when I say „a law was passed“, I should actually say: „Current laws were changed. In addition to it being illegal to mock, slander, belittle or threaten an individual og group of people with any means of expression, such as with images or symbols, because of nationality, skin color, race, religion or sexual orientation … it is now also illegal to do all of the above to an individual or group of people because of their gender identity.“

So yeah. Not exactly breaking new ground, but rather adding a much-needed criteria.

I do not assume the three MP‘s iSecond classn question (I‘ve worked with one of them in the past, and another is dating a friend of mine … welcome to Iceland) meant to object the idea of transgender rights. My understanding is they were trying to seize the moment to point out that they felt the maximum penalty for such a crime (2 years in prison) is so strong that it may undermine a basic human right – the freedom of speech.

The 2 year penalty was originally put in 1973, when Iceland ratified the UN‘s Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination from 1963.

In addition, the other Nordic countries (our friends, our kin, our role-models) have more or less similar penalties.

Why all these boring explanations? Because I strongly oppose to the idea that people with no personal stake can object to a vital human rights law amendment in such a way, in order to serve another cause. However good it may be.

But hey, as long as their intentions are for the greater good, right?

Example #2:

Irish drag queen and lgbt rights activist Panti Bliss.
Irish drag queen Panti Bliss. Photo by Conor Horgan.

On stage at Dublin‘s Abbey Theatre, Irish drag queen Panti Bliss (don‘t you just love drag-names?) gave one of the most powerful speeches I‘ve ever heard on the different forms of oppression, how non-oppressed (and oppressing) people struggle with understanding the concept of oppression, the idiocy of random people trying to debate the life and rights of minorities they have nothing to do with, how society can make you self-oppress, and finally – my favorite – how the concept of hate speech has been turned on it‘s head, so that Bliss herself has been accused of hate speech for complaining about homophobia.

„And for the last three weeks I have been denounced from the floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet commentary for “hate speech” because I dared to use the word “homophobia”. And a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word “homophobia” is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia – homophobes are,“ Bliss says in her excellent speech.

See for yourself, by clicking here.

The majority fears equality

I feel I must add, to all of this, that a lot of progress has been made in gaining basic human rights for queer people in Iceland. The milestone I relate the most to is when, in 2012, a law was passed that grants transpeople the right to medical care, and the children of trans-people the same legal stand in relations to their parent after their parent‘s treatment, as before.

There is still more to be done, though.

Even though no law prevents it, Icelandic officials will not allow you to leave the gender-segment of your passport blank. There are, however, laws that prevent you to choose a non-gender specific first name. Instead, „boys should be given men‘s names and girls should be given women‘s names“.

Both these issues torment transpeople in the early stages of their transition, because for two years, or more, they have to live under one name, but be recognized by „the system“ under another. How often do you use your credit-card, for example? How much trouble can you imagine it would create if it had a name that belongs to the opposite sex?

The one that really bothers me is when in 2011, the kind-of-legally-elected Constitutional Council handed over their proposal for a new constitution, their human rights-chapter was wanting in so many ways. For example, the council composed a list of reasons people could not use as basis for discrimination. Even though the list is somewhat long (15 items including age, sex, sexual orientation, race, opinions, language, religion and so on) there is no mention of gender identity.

Transpeople are far more likely to be victimized by hate crime than most or any other groups of people.
Transpeople are far more likely to be victimized by hate crime than most or any other groups of people.

You might not think this is a big issue, but since transpeople are far more likely to be victimized by hate crime than most or any other groups of people, it‘s kind of strange. Specially when you learn that gender identity was voted out of the list in a council „show of hands“ by one vote.

And even stranger when you learn the explanation the council gave the „lobbying“ group advocating for a change to get gender identity back in. „It hasn‘t got the same general awareness as homosexuality, so we didn‘t think it should be in the constitution now.“

I could write an even longer article about this council, and the proposal (they call it a bill) they handed over. But I won‘t.

So, I‘m thankful for every small progress but at the same time, I don‘t understand why all of these issues have to go around and around before they are solved. Why it‘s just not enough to see what it takes to give everyone the same basic rights, and just fix it.

We all know there are people who feel that giving other groups of people the same rights they have, makes their rights worth less. And not only that, it makes the other group „privileged“ beyond themselves. (No matter how I try, I can‘t get the math to work on that one.)

The problem with minorities is that they‘ll never get the majority vote. So if you apply the rules of democracy to deciding their rights, they‘ll never graduate from being second class.

And even though most people taking part in the decisions of minorities´ rights are well-meaning, the loud voices of those who fear equality are the ones making the debate necessary.

But hey, as long as their intentions are for the greater good, right?

Although … WHO‘S greater good?

 

Skylar Kergil.
Skylar Kergil.

Main Photo: Many teenagers who identify as transgender have appeared to be at higher risk for depression and suicide. But with support from family, friends and society more and more are becoming comfortable with who they are, like activist, artist, writer and musician Skylar Kergil who began documenting his F.T.M. (female to male) transition on YouTube in 2009. Photo by Julia Luckett.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

        Your Name (required)

        Your Email (required)

        Subject

        Your Message

        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


        PGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lmdvb2dsZS5jb20vbWFwcy9lbWJlZD9wYj0hMW0xNCExbTEyITFtMyExZDI3ODQyLjM0NzA2NDA3OTU4ITJkLTIxLjkwMDg1MDg1NzkxODQyITNkNjQuMTQxNzA3ODE2NzAyMDEhMm0zITFmMCEyZjAhM2YwITNtMiExaTEwMjQhMmk3NjghNGYxMy4xITVlMCEzbTIhMXNlbiEycyE0djE0MzMzMzc5MTUyMjYiIHdpZHRoPSIxMDAlIiBoZWlnaHQ9IjEwMCUiIGZyYW1lYm9yZGVyPSIwIiBzdHlsZT0iYm9yZGVyOjAiPjwvaWZyYW1lPg==
        Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.