BDSM labelled a disorder

Iceland is the only Nordic country that still lists BDSM as a mental illness. A clear example of thoughtlessness, says the chairman of the Icelandic BDSM association. Members want the government to acknowledge BDSM as normal sexual behaviour. Not categorize it as a sickness.

“Its not easy to realize your sexual desires are categorized by your government as a mental illness, it’s actually really difficult. Categorizing BDSM as a mental disorder only makes it harder for people to come in terms with their sexual identity,” says Magnús Hákonarson, chairman of the Icelandic BDSM association which has formally requested the Director of Health for Iceland to remove BDSM from its list of mental illnesses. BDSM in this instance referring to “Dual-role transvestism, Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, and sado-masochism”.

“It's absurd that BDSM is listed as a mental disorder here because I don't know about any psychiatrists who are treating people because of BDSM tendencies. Of course there's a possibility some old-fashioned doctor might try it but I still think its doubtful.”
“It’s absurd that BDSM is listed as a mental disorder here because I don’t know about any psychiatrists who are treating people because of BDSM tendencies. Of course there’s a possibility some old-fashioned doctor might try it but I still think its doubtful,” says Magnús Hákonarson, chairman of the Icelandic BDSM association.

In its letter to the director, dated September 3rd, the association claims there is nothing indicating that these tendencies are in any way a sickness. But stating the opposite can have severe and negative consequences.

“As I say the fact that BDSM is categorized as a mental illness has a negative affect on a person’s sexual identity,” Magnús points out. “It’s also makes people more vulnerable to prejudice – their own and from others – and discrimination. And because of that they become afraid of living out their BDSM side, even hiding it as they’re afraid of negative effects on their lives and their job security. This can inhibit them finding a partner, building a healthy self-image and, ironically, good mental health. Because hiding in the closet can really damage your health.”

Magnús adds that the stigma surrounding such classification can even prevent BDSM people from seeking police assistance or medical support, such as going to the emergency room, if needed. And for good reasons.

“I know rape victims who’ve been discouraged by the justice system to prosecute their attackers. Just because they had in good faith allowed the perpetrator to tie them down before the assault occurred. The victims were basically told by the system that it was their own fault. It’s the same argument rape victims get when they are told that they were attacked because ‘their skirt was too short’. And when put in that context, you can see how absurd it is.”

He admits that because of the stigma the public has a rather negative image of BDSM. The problem being the connection people make with violence.

“When speaking about BDSM, people tend to stereotype, thinking of black leather, someone being spanked and bondage. People are thinking specifics. But in reality BDSM is about so much more,” he explains. “It’s about the general frame, that we are working with communication, trust, what is allowed and what is not allowed, that this is an alternative form of communication.”

He goes on to say that the BDSM group consists of very different individuals. “The only thing we have in common is that we call ourselves BDSM. For some BDSM is a sexual identity where as for others it’s only to spice up their sex. What we get out of it varies greatly but mutual respect is the key, it’s the main thing.”

“I know rape victims who’ve been discouraged by the justice system to prosecute their attackers. Just because they had in good faith allowed the perpetrator to tie them down before the assault occurred.”

But why did the Director of Health for Iceland categorize BDSM as a mental illness in the first place?

“Because of its use of the International Classification of Diseases, which is published by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Magnús explains and adds that despite of that all the other Nordic states have removed BDSM from their lists of mental disorders.

adsf
Labelling BDSM as a mental disorder can have very negative effects on people’s self-image according to Magnús. Photo/Sander van der Wel.

“Denmark was the first country to remove it from its list in 1994-1995. The Danes made a political decision and the other Nordic states followed, Sweden in 2009, Norway in 2010 and Finland in 2012. If we in Iceland were to do the same it would strengthen the push for changes in the WHO, removing BDSM from the list. Which could help reduce prejudice against BDSM and discrimination against BDSM people and empower their self-image.”

Asked why he thinks Iceland has not yet removed BDSM from its list of mental disorders in light of the actions of the other Nordic States, Magnús says the reasons for that are twofold.

“First of all the Icelandic BDSM association wasn’t very active in the years when the other countries had it removed from their lists. So there wasn’t power enough to push the matter through. Not untill now. Which is great, because in the last twenty years we have come to understand more on man’s sexuality. General opinion and respect for diversity has grown in Iceland. So the timing to send the Director of Health the request is good.”

You mentioned two reasons?

“Yes, the other being thoughtlessness. You see the people working with the list aren’t necessarily well-informed on queer issues, as we like to perceive BDSM, or working on human rights. It probably hasn’t even crossed their minds to look into the matter.”

As of now The Directorate of Health hasn’t replied to the association’s letter.

BDSM, The Directorate of Health and WHO
  • The BDSM association of Iceland was founded in 1997, to provide information on BDSM and fight for the rights of people who are into BDSM. More than four hundred people have attended seminars and meetings held by the association in the last five years. The association has through the years worked closely with the National Queer Organization (Samtökin ’78) and has recently applied for membership to the NQO.
  • The Directorate of Health is a government agency headed by the Director of Health for Iceland, established in 1760. The current Director of Health is Birgir Jakobsson, MD, PhD. Birgir is the 17th holder of the post. According to the Director of Health and Public Health Act, No. 41/2007 the main functions of the Directorate of Health are public health measures and health promotion. Among its functions are to advice the Minister of Welfare and other Government bodies, health professionals and the public on matters concerning health, disease prevention and health promotion. More on the Directorate of Health here.
  • The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9, 1977) listed homosexuality as a mental illness. It was removed from the ICD-10, endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly on May 17th 1990. Transsexualism (who many think is an outdated term that pathologizes transpeople) is still on the WHO list of mental disease.

Main photo shows a blindfolded and handcuffed man. Magnús says that  people tend to stereotype BDSM in this way, thinking of bondage, black leather and such, when in fact its much more complicated. Photo by Angr.

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.