Queer Pirates?

The Pirates, Iceland’s “largest” political party, are currently forming a special group within their midst with a focus on queer related issues. The inaugural meeting will be held at Gaukurinn on June 18. GayIceland interviewed the organizers.

The Pirate Party core policy focus on civil rights, transparency, the freedom of information and that everyone has an unlimited right to be involved in decisions that relate to their own affairs. They use an online voting system where they can vote on matters that are up for debate. Currently their voting is on policies in tourism and electronic cigarettes.
Agust Beaumont is one of the organizers of Queer Pirates, a new group within The Pirate Party. The core policy of The Pirate Party focus on civil rights, transparency, the freedom of information and that everyone has an unlimited right to be involved in decisions that relate to their own affairs. The Pirates use an online voting system where they can vote on matters that are up for debate.

“Queer Pirates are very similar to the Pirates. We want fundamental structural changes in society just like the Pirate party, especially when it comes to the laws. We want to provide guidance when it comes to law-making and assist in upgrading the system so that the rights of LGBTI+ people won’t be forgotten. Because, often when a battle is almost ‘won’ there’s a risk that people fall asleep on the watch and rights are lost. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” explains organizer Agust Beaumont.

Agust says that there are groups working on queer issues within other political parties in Iceland, but that Queer Pirates is the first political group incurred as a part of a political party like the Pirates. A format that is already know among Pirate Parties in Sweden and Finland. “Queer Pirates are operating in both Sweden and Finland under the name Rainbow Pirates which are our sister-associations,” explains Sindri Viborg. “I’ve spoken in-depth with their founders, especially in Sweden, about their theories and how they are working on this cause.”

“We want better access for LGBTI+ people in the decision-making process in matters that concern them. Nothing about us without us.”

Talking about the cause, what do the Pirates in Iceland specifically have to bring to the table when it comes to the fight for LGBTI+ rights?  “Right now there are many laws and regulations that are unequal and unfair,” says Sindri. “Gay men aren’t allowed to give blood for example, but it would be better that the laws would state that self-evaluation on riskful behavior would exclude donors from giving blood. Iceland is also falling behind on many LGBTI+ legal rights if we compare ourselves to the Scandinavian countries. Matters on adoption need to be mended and so forth. What we have to focus on especially is stopping unasked for genital procedures on intersex babies.”

“We want better access for LGBTI+ people in the decision-making process in matters that concern them,” adds Hans Jónsson. “Nothing about us without us.”

But is there really a need to create a special queer group within the party? Why doesn’t the party leadership automatically work on queer issues? “Nothing implies they aren’t working on the subject, as a matter of fact it has been obvious how open and positive Pirates are about this issue,” says Andrés Helgi Valgarðsson. “That being said, establishing a special group focusing on that subject can only be a positive thing.”

The party managed to win three seats in the 2013 election and became the first pirate party in the world to enter a national parliament.
The Pirate party managed to win three seats in the 2013 election and thereby became the first pirate party in the world to enter a national parliament. Photo by Zinneke, shows Alþingi the parliament building.

According to Agust the plan isn’t only to establish a special queer group but also to form a special queer council. “The idea is that the council would be decentralized, because we don’t think there should be one overhead organization that controls everything, but that all members involved can have a say. The idea is still being developed though, so I encourage people to come to the first general meeting and see how the queer council is thought to function.”

Can anyone become a member of the Queer Pirates? Even those who don’t belong to the LGBTI+ population? “Of course, everyone can join Queer Pirates if they want to. As long as you’re willing to work on queer issue, then you’re welcome,” says Agust. He points out that they’re currently calling out for candidates for the queer council.

Finally when asked why they decided to join the Pirates in the first place it’s obvious from the answers that direct democracy and an access to a powerful grass-root play a pivotal part in that decision. Kári Gunnarsson says that for him the policies on the freedom and power of information also mattered. “Because that‘s when people can work together on making better decisions for their future and change things for the better.”

The inaugural meeting will actually take a whole week and as is the Pirate style, most of it will take place over the Internet. That is to make sure that people who are interested in joining but live outside of the capital and/or have difficult job-schedules won’t be excluded. It will start with an event at Gaukurinn on June 18 at 14 but from there will continue online and finish with another event at Pirates headquarters Tortuga (Fiskislóð 31, Reykjavík) on Saturday June 25th at 14.

You can find Queer Pirates on Facebook.

Main photo: The organizers are working on a logo for the group. This is one of the ideas that has come up.

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