Will not put Iceland in the forefront when it comes to LGBTI issues

Icelanders are learning more details about a new government bill that could improve the rights of trans and intersex people — and some questions are being raised about what’s being left out in the landmark legislation.

Kitty Anderson, the chairperson of Intersex Ísland, is critical of the new bill.

GayIceland spoke with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir about the bill last month, when she said she hoped the bill would place Iceland at the forefront of defending LGBTI rights. A draft of the bill has since been submitted to public consultation, confirming details about what will be addressed in the bill.
Some of the central elements of the legislation, should it pass through Parliament, include allowing people to change their legal gender marker without having to go through the health care system and changing to an informed consent model for trans people who wish to transition. This is a departure from the outdated diagnostic process for transitioning, which has long been criticized by trans people in Iceland.

However, the bill also leaves out some key points, says Kitty Anderson, the chairperson of Intersex Ísland. Kitty has been involved with consultations about the bill since May 2015, and she says that some elements that were included in earlier drafts of the legislation have since been removed.
“I’m not critical of what is going forward,” Kitty says. “I’m critical of what is being left behind.”

“This would not suffice to fulfill the government coalition promise of putting Iceland at the front of the pack when it comes to LGBTI issues — nowhere close.”

Importantly, Kitty says the original intent of the bill was to also guarantee the right to self-determination, bodily autonomy and physical integrity for intersex people. While the current draft does include the right to self-determination, it only creates a committee to study and establish guidelines around bodily autonomy and physical integrity.
“It’s problematic that there is no end date given for this work to be done,” she says about the change. “In Iceland we sometimes like to say that committees are where issues go to die. And while this is an exaggeration of course, by giving this committee no time frame, this is something that could go on for the next few years. If this legislation isn’t enacted before the next election, then the government will have failed to uphold their government coalition agreement.”

Kitty is referring to the current government’s coalition agreement, which states its intention to fulfill the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s intersex resolution from 2017. That resolution includes explicit reference to protecting intersex children’s bodily autonomy and physical integrity.

Also removed from the bill is an article that called for the mandatory registration of all medical interventions on intersex children, which Kitty said would give important information about the scope of this issue in Iceland.
“We see no good reason at all for removing mandatory registration,” she says. “We already have mandatory registration for various other medical procedures in Iceland.”

This could also become a security issue

While Kitty applauds changes that will allow people to more easily change their legal gender marker, she criticizes the proposed legislation for only permitting people to change their gender marker one time.
“I think for most people that will be sufficient,” she says. “However, there is always the possibility of somebody changing their gender marker from male to female and then a few years later coming to realize that they identify more as non-binary and deciding they would have preferred an ‘X’ marker.”

“It would be great to see a reversal of some of the changes, but this current government has done more to advance LGBTI issues in Iceland than any other government since 2012.”

In addition to being a rights issue, Kitty also says this could also become a security issue. “Let’s say a person decides to move to a country where their gender marker is not recognized — for example, if they have an ‘X’ marker. They might run into issues there,” she says. “Another possibility would be somebody who wants their legal gender recognized here in Iceland, but does not want to have medical treatment to alter their body — which would no longer be a requirement under this new legislation. If they decide to move to a like Russia, for example, then their gender marker won’t necessarily match what authorities in that country believe that somebody with that gender marker should look like.”

Although Kitty admits she isn’t certain about why these elements were removed from the legislation, she says the changes were made after the bill was transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office in January. Kitty says that she and the other people involved with the bill were only notified of the changes a couple days before the legislation was put into public consultation.
“I can only speculate as to why these changes were made,” she says. “It could be a number of possibilities, for example opposition from health care officials or belief that this couldn’t be enacted effectively yet in Iceland.”

Iceland should be more like Malta

Responding to the comments from the Icelandic Prime Minister that this legislation could put Iceland at the forefront of defending LGBTI rights, Kitty says she isn’t convinced. In particular, she says the new bill will do little to increase Iceland’s standing in the ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Europe index, which ranks European countries based on legal rights and protections from LGBTI people.
“It’s not going to shoot us up. We’re not going to get huge recognition for being the front runners of the year,” she says. “We will still be lagging behind the front runners. This would not suffice to fulfill the government coalition promise of putting Iceland at the front of the pack when it comes to LGBTI issues — nowhere close.”

Right now, Malta is the country at the top of the ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Index, while Iceland has dropped to the 18th place. Kitty says the reason for that comes down to political will to legislate on the part of Maltese politicians.
“Just a few years ago, Malta was close to the bottom of the rankings,” Kitty points out. “And then a government came into power that had political will to legislate and change. That’s what it’s about. If Malta can affect this much legal change in such a short time, there’s no reason why Iceland cannot.”

“It is quite clear that the government is aiming to advance drastically. However, reaching the first position would require more legal change, policy change, action plans and constitutional change.”

Despite the shortcomings of this new legislation, Kitty stills says it’s a “great bill.” She says she’s optimistic this government will continue legislating advances for LGBTI rights in the near future.
“The government is definitely not shying away from active participation of the people involved,” she says, referring to the fact that Intersex Ísland is included in the committee that will study guidelines around bodily autonomy and physical integrity for intersex children. “It would be great to see a reversal of some of the changes, but this current government has done more to advance LGBTI issues in Iceland than any other government since 2012.”

“It is quite clear that the government is aiming to advance drastically,” she adds. “However, reaching the first position would require more legal change, policy change, action plans and constitutional change. Iceland is a small country, so change is potentially easier than in many other places. When it comes to human rights, we should not be reacting to the fact that other countries are advancing ahead of us. We should always be looking for what we can do to be a step ahead, because we should be setting an example and not playing catch-up.”

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.


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.

      - 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.

      - 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. “

      - 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.

        - 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).

        - 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.


        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.


        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
        -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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