Ugla Stefanía. Photo / Oddvar Hjartar

Iceland’s Impressive Progress of LGBTQIA+ Rights Gives Hope For A Better Future

OPINION Ugla Stefanía writes about how Iceland has made meaningful changes for LGBTQIA+ people in recent years, ranking the 1st and 2nd on Transgender Europe’s Trans Map and ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Map respectively. She reminds that even during the current backlash, there is still hope for a brighter future.

Earlier this month Transgender Europe (TGEU) and ILGA Europe published their Trans Rights Map and Rainbow Map respectively—where countries in Europe are ranked based on what legal rights they have achieved for LGBTQIA+ people.

Only a few years ago Iceland only fulfilled just over 50% of legal rights required for there to be full legal equality for our community. This year, however, Iceland stands at the top of TGEU’s Trans Rights Map, and sits in 2nd place on ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Map.

In a matter of a few years Iceland has made significant changes that have benefited the community and placed us so highly on both of these maps. This has been thanks to tireless work from members within our community as well as charities and other organisations that have advocated for our rights in recent years, and the decades before that.

One of the biggest steps we’ve made in recent years is passing the Gender Autonomy Act in 2019. This law increased the legal rights of trans people and intersex people which included easier access to legal gender recognition, non-binary recognition and banned interventions on intersex infants.

In a matter of a few years Iceland has made significant changes that have benefited the community and placed us so highly on both of these maps.

Through the process the law remained largely uncontroversial in Iceland, and had support from all major feminist organisations, human rights organisations and public institutions in the country. As a result, it passed through the Parliament with no votes against it.

We’ve also made meaningful changes when it comes down to anti-discrimination laws, as well as banning all conversion practices on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We are still lacking in areas around hate crimes, hate speech and rights for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, but I am positive we can continue to make meaningful change for our community.

While things are far from perfect in Iceland, there is still reason to celebrate these achievements. Many countries in Europe and further afield are currently embroiled in a backlash and toxic debates about LGBTQIA+ rights, meaning some countries have come to a standstill—with some even moving backwards and removing or restricting existing rights.

This places Iceland in a unique position, where we are better able to deal with the backlash directed at our community and lead by example. LGBTQIA+ equality is not a threat to anyone, and only means we are creating a society where everyone has the same opportunities, and laws that protect them from discrimination and bigotry.

But even despite us being in a good position in terms of legal rights, we have also noticed this backlash, and our younger generations in particular are suffering increased hostility and prejudice in their day to day lives.

And that is the reality for all LGBTQIA+ people across the world, as we are noticing increased hostility and experiencing more hate crimes than ever. Our community is being targeted by far-right organisations and political forces more strongly than ever before, because we have never been more visible and more strong as a community.

This backlash and wave of bigotry is driven by fear and ignorance—much like previous moral panics around equal marriage, HIV and education in schools. The same tired tropes are being bandied around once again, simply in a brand new costume. The backlash has been largely pointed at the trans community, and has clear parallels to how gay men and lesbians were treated a few decades ago when they gained more rights and acknowledgement in society.

The maps published by TGEU and ILGA are therefore useful tools, as they give us an overview of progress in a larger context. They also give us hope in an ever changing world that progress is indeed still possible, and offers our community hope. Things that once appeared impossible are now a reality, and we will overcome this tide of hate, like we always have.

So even if things might seem bleak and overwhelming, just remember that there is always hope. As a community we will come together in solidarity and mobilise our allies to fight alongside us.

I therefore hope that changes like this can inspire and mobilise other countries, who will continue to push for much needed change.

Our community is nothing if not resilient, and we will continue to withstand the hatred and bigotry, and rise above it and push for progress. Because progress still needs to be made everywhere, Iceland included. We are still facing bigotry, prejudice and violence every single day, and the fight is not over until we are all free to be who we are without stigma, persecution and judgement.

So even if things might seem bleak and overwhelming, just remember that there is always hope. As a community we will come together in solidarity and mobilise our allies to fight alongside us. There is always something we can do, and progress we can make, even if it seems small.

Despite attempts to eradicate us for decades and even centuries, we will always remain as long as humanity exists—because being LGBTQIA+ is simply a part of being human, and the diversity of life.

So get loud, be inspired and don’t be a bystander. The time to stand up for equality is now, and we need everyone to come together in solidarity to push back this wave of hate and come back stronger on the other side.

Together we will overcome this backlash, and more and more countries will be able to celebrate achievements they’ve made. Humanity, compassion and love will always win over hatred in the end.

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.



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    Omnom Chocolate
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      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.

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      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.

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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%.

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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.

        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.

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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.

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          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

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