The Human Rights of Intersex People: A New Approach is the name of a symposium that will be held on Saturday the 17th of February.

Kitty Anderson, the chair of Intersex Iceland.

The symposium is organized by Intersex Iceland, Samtökin ’78 – The National Queer Organization of Iceland and Amnesty Iceland and will take place at Building Askja – Room 132 – at the University of Iceland between 12–4 pm.
GayIceland got in touch with María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, the chair of Samtökin ’78, and Kitty Anderson, the chair og Intersex Iceland, and asked them about the reasons for this symposium and how things stand in the matters regarding intersex people in Iceland today. They choose to speak in unison, so their answers are not credited to one or the other of them.

How did it come about that you decided to hold this symposium?
“Intersex Iceland was founded in 2014 and intersex people were formally recognized by Samtökin ‘78 in 2015. Since then, the two organizations have worked tirelessly to raise public awareness and push for legislative and policy change. The need for this change arises from the fact that in Iceland, many intersex people are subjected to invasive and irreversible surgery or treatment without their consent, often beginning in infancy or early childhood.
These interventions are usually non-emergency-related and have harmful effects that can last a lifetime.
It is essential that these non-consensual interventions into people’s bodies cease and instead we move towards a framework where we provide intersex individuals and their families with psychological and social support.

“Intersex children are … one of the few groups in Iceland to be subjected to non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgery or treatment with harmful effects.”

This event is intended to give Iceland the opportunity to hear directly from world-renowned experts in this field who have conducted groundbreaking research and facilitated pioneering legislative change to advance intersex human rights. We hope that their contributions will galvanize the Icelandic government and others who are in a position to change things for the better here.”

By intersex people, they are referring to people with variations in their primary sex characteristics (e.g. chromosomes, genitalia, reproductive systems, hormone sensitivity and reproduction) and those who develop variations in their secondary sex characteristics, e.g. muscle mass, hair growth, stature, breast growth, fat distribution and Adam’s apple.

How do things stand for intersex people in Iceland today?
“Intersex people enjoy no legal recognition whatsoever in Iceland today. They are mentioned nowhere in Icelandic law and are therefore not protected against discrimination or human rights abuses. This is profoundly problematic because many intersex people have suffered serious human rights violations as a part of their healthcare. However we see a clear increase in political will to tackle this issue, with the Icelandic government being the first government in the world to clearly specify intersex rights in their government coalition agreement.

María Helga Guðmundsdóttir, chair of Samtökin ’78.

In the past four years, since the founding of Intersex Iceland, we also see a marked increase in public awareness about the existence of intersex people and the discrimination they face. Most intersex people are still deeply closeted, however. Some have had their intersex variation kept secret from them and many have been told all their life by medical professionals to keep their identity secret. We hope that with time it will become easier for people to come out and acknowledge their identity to others if and when they wish to.”

Have we fallen behind other nations regarding these matters?
“Intersex human rights violations are unfortunately very widespread and only a few countries have taken active steps to change that. Malta blazed the trail in 2015 with the world’s first legislation to protect the bodily integrity and autonomy of intersex children and adults, and Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Kosovo, Malta and Norway have all installed equality legislation or policies. So we have fallen behind them, yes. But the appalling thing in Iceland is not that we are behind other countries. It is that we are failing to meet what should be our moral and ethical baseline: that we don’t perform unnecessary, invasive medical interventions potentially with far-reaching consequences on infants who aren’t old enough to provide informed consent.”

“The most pressing issue … is protecting the physical integrity and bodily autonomy of intersex children.”

What are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed to improve the situation for intersex people?
“The most pressing issue that needs to be addressed to improve the situation for intersex people in Iceland is protecting the physical integrity and bodily autonomy of intersex children. Intersex children are seen as a social emergency and are one of the few groups in Iceland to be subjected to non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgery or treatment with harmful effects. Intersex youth in Iceland have also been subjected to needless gonadectomies which the World Health Organisation classifies as coercive sterilisation.

Intersex children are seen as a social emergency.

There is a dire need to move from the current practice towards one based on psycho-social support. The problem is not with these children not fitting into society but rather that society needs to make space for them to grow and develop and make their own choices about their own bodies. The experiences of intersex people often echo closely the experiences of people with disabilities who in the past also were subjected to coercive sterilisation and invasive surgical procedures to change their appearance. No child should be subjected to non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgery or treatment with harmful effects under any circumstances.

Legal protections on the basis of sex characteristics must be installed in the fields of equality and discrimination, hate crime and hate speech in addition to ensuring that intersex asylum seekers that seek asylum in Iceland are provided with competent and educated personnel to handle their cases.”

Is there some new legislation in the matters regarding intersex people in the making?
“The new government coalition has pledged to enact legislation to protect the rights of intersex people in accordance with the intersex resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2017. This indicates that the government is paying close attention to the newest developments in the field of intersex human rights and willing to put them into practice. This is a cause for great optimism and we hope to celebrate the passing of groundbreaking legislation in this field before long.”

For whom is the symposium intended?
“The symposium is intended for all those concerned with intersex issues, particularly intersex children’s issues. Members of parliament, medical professionals, employees of schools and daycare, and all those who work to promote the welfare and rights of children are encouraged to attend. The organizers would also like to encourage attendance by those who are working on similar issues in other countries, particularly representatives of intersex and LGBTI organizations.”

Special guests

Special guests at the symposium are Ruth Baldacchino, co-chair of ILGA-World and director of the Intersex Human Right Fund at Astraea – The Lesbian Foundation for Justice. They played a key role in the passing of the world’s most advanced legislation for trans and intersex rights, which was passed in Malta in 2015.

Piet de Bruyn, general rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people to the Council of Europe and author of the CoE’s report on intersex human rights.

Laura Carter, research and policy advisor on sexual orientation and gender identity at Amnesty International. She authored AI’s report “First, Do No Harm” on the situation of intersex people in the Danish and German healthcare systems.

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

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        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


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