Only one out of the 63 MP’s of the Icelandic Parliament showed up for a symposium on the human rights of intersex people last weekend.
One deputy MP was also in attendance. However none of the ministers of the Icelandic government attended and in fact not one MP from the parties that form the coalition government attended.
“It’s sad that none of the MP’s took the time to attend,” says María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, chair of The National Queer Organisation Samtökin ‘78. “The lives, health and happiness of people is at stake.”
The symposium The Human Rights of Intersex People: A New Approach was held at The University of Iceland last Saturday. Three foreign specialists in the matters of intersex people spoke at the symposium and María Helga is disappointed that only one MP and one deputy MP were able to attend.
“All 63 members of parliament got a personal invitation to the symposium,” she says. “But only one of them, Hanna Katrín Friðriksson from the Reform Party (Viðreisn), and one deputy MP, Alex Stefánsson from the Progressive Party (Framsókn), showed up. Some of the others answered our invitation, thanked us for it and explained that they were unable to attend due to other obligations. And of course we understand that not everyone who is interested is ever able to attend. But it is sad that only one MP showed up and no one from the government or the parties in the coalition except one deputy MP.”
“It’s sad that none of the MP’s took the time to attend. The lives, health and happiness of people is at stake.”
María Helga says that for such a huge matter of human rights political willingness and how things are prioritized is paramount. It’s too common that human rights are overlooked in practice, even when everyone is in agreement about their importance.
“We are very grateful to Hanna Katrín and Alex for attending and participating in the symposium and we will send all the people who were invited a recording of the symposium and all the papers that were used and we urge them to study it at their own convenience.”
Were you surprised by this lack of interest from the MP’s?
“We expected more of them to show up, yes,” says María Helga. “And one other MP had told us he would attend but in the end he did not. The weather played a part, I guess, and we know that it is harder to get officials to attend events during the weekend. But it’s not often possible to get three foreign specialists to come to Iceland at the same time and it’s regrettable that not more MP’s took advantage of this unique opportunity.”
Those who missed out can watch the recording from the symposium on Facebook and later it will be accessible on the website of Samtökin ’78. María Helga and Kitty Anderson, chair of Intersex Iceland, urge everyone, especially members of parliament, to watch the recording and listen to what the foreign specialists, Ruth Baldacchino, Piet de Bruyn and Laura Carter, had to say about the human rights of intersex people.
Main photo: Jóhann Heiðar Árnason