Photo / Móa Hjartardóttir

“It’s important that we as a community come together”

Opinion Why is it important that we as a community come together and make a firm stand for human rights? Trans activist and chair person of Trans Iceland, Ugla Stefanía tells you why.

As Queer Christmas comes once more the small city of Reykjavík, with all it’s celebration, glitter and politics, the disgruntled voices of the nation’s known queerphobes also fill the comment sections.

While most of us might just dismiss them as “a few crazy people”, it would be naive to deny that these voices are increasingly becoming louder. All around the world we are seeing an increase in stigma, hate crime, and violence against the queer community. The most tangible being what’s happening in the US and the UK, where rights are under attack and are being stripped away.

While the anti-equality voices try to paint us as attention-seeking deviants that want special rights, living as a queer person in Iceland feels far from equal. We have certainly made some significant progress in the past decade – most recently with the new Gender Identity & Sex Characteristics Bill which is worth to celebrate – there’s still a long way to go.

“It’s clear that we are living in pivotal times, where toxic nationalism and populism are on the rise.”

Intersex people at large still suffer genital mutilation and irreversible interventions based on binary and heternormative standards of what their sex characteristics ‘should be like’. This causes irreparable psychological damage to them as they are forced to keep their intersex history a secret and endure countless medical interventions as a result. Many are even lied to about their own history by doctors and their families, and are unable to access medical records on precisely what was done to them.

Sexual health of queer men in particular is very poor, with high numbers of queer men contracting serious STI’s/STD’s, such as syphilis and gonorrhea. While HIV infections are going down all around the world due to medication such as PrEP, it isn’t enough to get queer men to have safer sex. With the rise of chemsex parties, queer men – and trans women in some cases – are engaging into more risky sexual behaviour.

Prevalent stigma and shame is a large contributor to queer men and trans women engaging in risky sexual behaviour, and schools aren’t offering queer people the sexual education they need. We’re failing groups that are already neglected and marginalised.

Two women who conceive through IVF still struggle to both be recognised as the parents of their child, while heterosexual couples face no such barriers even if they used a sperm donor. Queer families that consist of more than two parents also have no way of being registered or becoming legal parents, leaving out many queer families that are unconventional.

Queer asylum seekers and refugees still face specific challenges in accessing asylum based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics, and deportations and lack of recognition, or the challenges they face, remains a serious problem in Iceland. The recognition of people’s gender identity in legal terms has also been ignored, with cases of trans asylum seekers having ID in line with their gender identity taken away from them.

Our older generation faces particular challenges as they grow older and start needing late life care, and many are forced to go back into the closet, and fear being separated from their same sex partners. Trans people and intersex people might also have specific care needs, such as different needs in terms of hair removal, wig-care or physical needs due to surgery, or have sex characteristics or genitals that don’t fit society’s traditional mold. Your average worker in a care home won’t know how to deal with those challenges without proper training and education.

A worrying state of affairs occurred earlier this year, when the Minister of Justice proposed changes to penal laws in Iceland, effectively making it harder to prosecute people for hate speech. This is very concerning, considering that we are facing a serious increase in hate speech and negative public opinion. This is no doubt due to the rise of nationalist and populist political parties, that are currently gaining traction all over the world, including in Iceland.

Just recently I criticised a sketch in Morgunblaðið that was based on poisonous propaganda against the progress of trans rights, which then garnered a lot of backlash. This week the chair of Samtökin ‘78, Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, wrote an article to criticise the fact Mike Pence – the Vice President of the United States – is being welcomed to the country by the government. Just reading the public discourse that has ensued – especially in the comment sections – reveals a horrifying reality where people are becoming even more extreme and radicalised, and have become very vocal and abusive when queer people speak up for themselves.

It’s clear that we are living in pivotal times, where toxic nationalism and populism are on the rise. This does not bode well for anyone, especially disenfranchised groups in society. That’s why it’s important that we as a community come together and make a firm stand for human rights.

That’s why it’s important that we as a community come together and make a firm stand for human rights. We need to stand with each other and speak out against injustice, prejudice and stigma wherever we witness it.

And that is precisely why we have Reykjavík Pride. That’s why we paint the streets in rainbow colours, have the church bells at Hallgrímskirkja play Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and have a parade in downtown Reykjavík. We need more than for people to tolerate us as long as we behave. We need full equality both legally and socially. We need unconditional respect.

So until queer people can feel free to walk the streets and live their lives as themselves without prosecution, discrimination and stigma we’re going to continue speaking out.

If that offends you, you’re probably a part of the problem.

Happy Reykjavík Pride.

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

Á. Óskarsson offers a variety of products and services to sports centers, swimming pools, schools, kindergartens, and the general public. The company specializes in sport-related products, activity-focused games, and a wide range of solutions for sports facilities.

Á. Óskarsson has been involved in numerous big projects related to building sports facilities and has made it their benchmark to offer good quality products and equipment since the company was founded.

See links to social media in the upper left-hand corner


Á. Óskarsson selur fjölbreytt vöruúrval fyrir íþróttahús, sundlaugar, skóla og leikskóla og einnig ýmsar vörur til einkaafnota. Fyrirtækið selur vörur til íþróttaiðkunnar og leikja ásamt því að bjóða upp á ýmsar lausnir fyrir íþróttamannvirki.

Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

Tenglar á samfélagsmiðla eru í efra horninu vinstra megin.



    Blush was founded in 2011 when it started selling high quality sex products. The goal from the beginning was to change the market and take the discussion about sex products to a higher level. Today Blush provides professional services in a pleasant environment that fulfills different needs, both for individuals and couples. Blush respects diversity and wants to set a good example in all of its messaging to target audiences. Sexual health and equality in sex is important and Blush wants to focus on those issues through education and open discussion. Blush works in a socially responsible manner for society, their customers and the environment.

    Check out Blush’s website:

    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.




        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

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        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        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
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        - 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.

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        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.

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

        - 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.

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        VSÓ Ráðgjöf


          VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

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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.

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