Iceland’s Parliament Approves Gay Marriage

On Friday, Iceland’s lawmakers voted to support a widening of the country’s definition of marriage so as to include same-sex couples. Of the 63 lawmakers in parliament, 49 approved the measure while none opposed it.

From Reuters:

The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between “man and man, woman and woman,” in addition to unions between men and women.

Iceland, a socially tolerant island nation of about 320,000 people, became the first country to elect an openly gay head of state in 2009 when Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister after being nominated by her party.

“The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic,” said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. “It (gay marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics — it’s not been controversial.

Iceland repealed laws criminalizing homosexuality in the 1940s. In 1996 it widened it’s registered partnership law to include same-sex partners and in 2006 same-sex couples were given the same parenting rights, responsibilities and adoption rights that were afforded straight couples.

With the passage of this new legislation also comes the decision to stop issuing licenses for civil partnerships. From now on, marriage will be the only recognized union for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, making same-sex couples truly equal in the eyes of the law.

The bill will now be sent before Iceland’s president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson for ratification, but this is considered only a formality given that the legislation has met virtually no resistance, even from religious quarters.

Indeed, while the change in the law says that “ministers will always be free to perform [gay] marriage ceremonies,” it expressly states that they will “never [be] obliged” to do so.

Iceland’s Protestant church is still debating whether it should recognize same-sex unions, but during a meeting of religious leaders in April, 91 out of the 125 attending theologians and priests voted to support the equal marriage bill. The matter has now been referred to the committee on rights and dogma with the committee’s response still being waited on.

Regardless, with the bill signed, Iceland will join Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Portugal in allowing gay marriage.

Argentinian lawmakers are currently examining the issue of gay marriage, while Nepal’s lawmakers are busy hammering out a new constitution that will grant gay marriage rights.

Iceland’s gay marriage law is expected to go into force as early as June 27.

Congratulations to Iceland!

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Jeff Belmonte.

75 comments

Allan Y.
.6 years ago

Pleased to read this.

Frank D.
Frank D.6 years ago

@Inez Deborah Altar
How odd: you support human rights, woman rights and patient rights, but you apparently oppose gay rights.

Frank D.
Frank D.6 years ago

@Elke Hoppenbrouwers
'FYI Gay marriage has been legal in Germany since 2001'
You're mistaken. Germany doesn't allow gay marriages. The first country in the world to acknowledge gay marriages is The Netherlands and this is indeed since 2001

Carole Tokaruk
Carole Tokaruk6 years ago

Another country hits the dust, so to speak. We all want to be on that bandwagon no matter where it takes us!!

Inez Deborah Altar

we are in Sodom

Katherine Maar
Katherine Maar6 years ago

Yeah! Go Iceland!

Philippa P.
Philippa P.6 years ago

Go, Iceland.

Teleia P.
Teleia P.6 years ago

Maybe I should consider moving to Iceland. It sounds like there's a lot less hate there.

Beng Kiat Low
low beng kiat6 years ago

Thanks

Jessie H.
Jessie H.6 years ago

GO ICELAND! You effing rock!! America needs to step up already!