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Quarter of Iceland’s Population Turn Out For Reykjavik Pride

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2009

Imagine it:

The eleventh annual Reykjavik Gay Pride parade and outdoor concert with Pall Oskar (probably Iceland’s biggest pop star) attracted about 80,000 people to the middle of Reykjavik on Saturday.

Involving roughly a quarter of Iceland’s entire population, the sheer size of the party is tribute to Iceland’s leading equal rights legislation and the citizens’ inclusive nature.

This is what a truly post-gay society looks like:

Iceland does not have a gay village. It does not even have many gay bars and clubs at all. But that has nothing to do with Iceland being a strict, conservative society…quite the opposite in fact.

Peek into a Reykjavik gay bar on a Saturday night and you will see a clientele anything but exclusively gay. And if you think all the dozens of other bars in town are straight-only, think again. People in Reykjavik go partying in places dictated by their taste in music, their taste in décor or simply by their bossy friends. They do not need to choose a venue based only on their sexuality.

Comments

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Ben
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

To be honest, it’s also because every gay icelander knows every other gay icelander, so you don’t need a gay bar to identify who’s available to flirt with. You already know, because all drama is also instantly transmitted 5 seconds after it goes down.

That’s not to say Iceland isn’t accepting, quite the opposite, it’s the most liberal gay accepting country I’ve been to, but the unique orientation mixing of the bars and clubs isn’t only relating to the open mindedness of Iceland.

In short, everyone should gay marry an Icelander. I love mine.

Christopher™
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Although it’s half a world away, I was recently at Vancouver Pride.

Besides being the most fun and enjoyable Pride event I’ve ever attended, the one thing that stood out to me was that there was not one single protester. Not one. I pointed this out to my Canadian friend, and he said, “Oh yeah, that kind of thing doesn’t happen here.”

I guess Christians in Canada have better things to do with their time, like feed the poor or something.

In addition, as my boyfriend and I were walking by a park after the parade had ended, we overheard a teenage girl talking to her (presumably) straight guy friends, and the one line I distinctly remember her saying was, “Everyone is gay on Gay Pride!” That’s the attitude they have there.

Canada hasn’t fallen into the ocean or been hit by space meteors, so I’m sure if the US ever gets to that point, we’ll be just fine.

Christopher Waldrop
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

I know even some supportive people who will look at something like this and ask, “Why even have a Pride event?” And when they ask me that I say, “Hey, why not?” A Pride event doesn’t necessarily have to be about promoting tolerance–it could just be an excuse to have a party.

What I’m getting at is that I think it’s wonderful both that Iceland is so tolerant generally and that they still hold a Pride event anyway.

AJD
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

I know that there is anti-gay prejudice and anti-gay hate crimes occur in Western Europe and Canada, but can anyone tell me why they’re so relaxed about it compared to Americans? Seriously, this is something I’ve always wondered.

Ephilei
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Then how is it they don’t have marriage equality?

Bryan
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Yeah, don’t forget that gay couples in Iceland have the same legal status as post-Prop 8 Californians.

Ben Mathis
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Ephilei and Bryan, not sure where you get your info, but even though it’s not called marriage, it has 100% the rights of marriage in Iceland. It literally refers directly to marriage rights, so that even if something new is added to marriage, gay partners instantly get it as well. I should know, I’m married in Iceland. It’s nothing at all like post-prop 8 Californians.

Ben Mathis
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

And with an openly gay female prime minister who is married, and a motion introduced to make marriages gender neutral, I hardly would make any comparisons to Iceland with the US. It’s light years ahead.

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Ben,

California same-sex domestic partnered couples have all the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of married couples under state law.

They do not have federal recognition for same-sex marriage, but neither do married same-sex couples in any state.

Ben Mathis
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

So my point still stands. In iceland you have ALL the rights of a married couple. Visa, adoption, tax free transfer of goods upon death, etc. There is no Federally withheld anything. There are a lot of federal rights that you don’t get in the US. as much as I hate the phrase, and as much as I’m anxious for it to be called marriage, this really is a case of “separate but equal” in Iceland, plus it’s been in place since 1996. California’s option was a poor farce in comparison.

Alex
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy,

Did married gay couples in California have federal recognition before Prop 8?

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

No same-sex couples have federal recognition of their marriage, whether married in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, California or a foreign nation. This is due to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Currently there has been a bill proposed to be submitted to Congress (or maybe it has been submitted, I’m not sure) to recognize those marriages as are recognized by states.

Additionally, the state of Massachusetts has sued the federal government to demand recognition of same-sex marriages conducted by that state.

Ben Mathis
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

The article is about Iceland. It’s not a state. I was commenting on people’s remarks that Iceland doesn’t have equal rights (it does) and comparing it to California post-prop 8 (it’s nothing like it). So I’m not sure why you keep mentioning other states. Most readers of the blog know that all 50 states are behind the curve in terms of civil rights for GLBT.

Alex
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy,

I don’t mean to go off-topic from the article, but I’m genuinely confused. If California same-sex domestic partners were legally equal to married couples before Prop 8 and are still legally equal to married couples after Prop 8, what exactly have they lost?

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Ben,

You’ll just have to forgive me for answering Alex’ questions. I’m sorry if this distresses you.

Alex,

The distinction between “marriage” and “domestic partner” encompases a number of differences:

1. Prop 8 intentionally established a two-tier system in which one type of people had access to both rights and title and the other did not. The issue wasn’t ‘can gay people visit in the hospital’ but rather a purposeful effort to tell gay people that they are inferior.

It would be very similar to telling Jews that they can’t be “married”, but instead they can be “Jew-hitched” which has all the same rights but can’t use the the word “marriage”, is filed separately, and won’t be counted in the census.

2. Prop 8 gave justification and permission to those wishing to discriminate. A proprietor can say, “I have a discount only for married people”. This may not necessarily be legal, but the issue is foggy enough to get away with it.

3. Society recognizes marriage differently from domestic partnerships. Many gay couples reported that their neighbors saw them differently and I’ve seen that gay people have different expections on gay married couples than they do on DPs. Interestingly, many reported feeling differently about their relationship after going through the process.

Families don’t gather, churches don’t decorate, and communities don’t celebrate DPs like they do marriages, gay and straight.

4. When the feds recognize marriage – which isn’t far off – they will recognize marriage. They won’t recognize DPs or civil unions or reciprical benefit arrangements or any other structure because in most places they are not the same thing.

5. Prop 8 removed a claim that gay people – and indeed the state of California – have against the federal government. Right now Massachusetts is suing claiming that the feds are violating their states rights. CA can’t join that lawsuit.

There are many other tangible and intangible differences.

I hope I’ve answered your questions. But, if not, perhaps we should let this thread get back on topic and discuss that elsewhere.

Ben Mathis
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

4. When the feds recognize marriage – which isn’t far off – they will recognize marriage. They won’t recognize DPs or civil unions or reciprical benefit arrangements or any other structure because in most places they are not the same thing.

I’m curious what makes you think it’s not far off, considering Obama has made no moves towards removing DOMA (other than scrubbing his promise to remove it from his website) and the congress isn’t working on it either. Kerry’s Defense of American Families act hasn’t moved either. The US can’t even pass UHC which is to the benefit of everyone, gay or straight, so my hopes of ever having my marriage recognized in the US within the next 10 years is slim.

Conversely, Iceland has had same sex partnerships since 1996, they carry full rights (that are recognized by all other countries with modern civil rights), can be done in a church, the head of the country is an openly partnered lesbian, and there is a bill being worked on that will make marriages gender neutral.

You can compare it to calling them “jew marriages” but Iceland doesn’t have the same cultural context as the US toward the word marriage, and many same-sex partners have just as much of a celebration when they get married as any straight couple. There is also not a history of misused “separate but equal” issues in Iceland.

Just like the original article mentions, Iceland is a country with modern civil rights, laws, and one of the most openly supportive countries towards it’s GLBT citizens (and adopted foreigners) that there is.

Alex
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

That answers my question. Thanks for taking the time to explain, Timothy.

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Ben,

We differ on our analyses of the expectation of movement on the marriage issue in the US, among other matters.

But, yes, Iceland is undoubtedly a lovely country and very supportive of its gay constituents and friends.

tavdy79
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Most readers of the blog know that all 50 states are behind the curve in terms of civil rights for GLBT.

Actually, there are several – mostly in New England – that are the equal of European and other nations in their provision of equal rights for LGBTs. They’re still in the distinct minority, and the US as a whole is definitely way behind many other Western countries, but they’re there nevertheless – and they’re lightyears ahead of all but one of the countries in Africa, and most of those in Asia.

Jim Burroway
August 13th, 2009 | LINK

Actually, no state is the equal of the several European and other nations which offer same-sex marriage or substantailly identical partnership arrangements, and that’s because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

No US state can provide survivors benefits in Social Security pensions, for example. No state can allow a foreign citizen same-sex spouse legally reside the U.S. as a similar heterosexual spouse can. In these and about a thousand other respects, no US state can offer same-sex couples the rights or impose responsibilities as many other nations.

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