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Prime Minister's Office

Address at the IDAHOT+ Forum - May 11th 2023

Dear all!

I am happy to be here with you today. It is a real pleasure for the Icelandic government to host the IDAHOT+ forum this year. IDAHOT is an occasion where we come together to celebrate milestones, re-assess the current state of affairs, and set new goals in our constant campaign for LGBTI+ rights. 

If we look back ten or twenty years on the status of LGBTI+ people in our societies, it´s clear we´ve come a long way and made significant progress in securing legal rights and  advancing social acceptance and protection against discrimination.

However, the fight for equality, inclusiveness, and full acceptance is far from over, and we must continue to work towards creating a society that is truly inclusive for all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

We know from experience that the fight for human rights has the tendency to move some steps forward and then some steps back. We see this happen all around the world today with the backlash towards both gender equality and LGBTI+ rights. We see movements seeking to roll back progress made toward LGBTI+ rights and it's important that we remain vigilant and put in the extra work to ensure that progress toward equality is not reversed. We must never take progress for granted and always be ready to fight against the push back.

We see trans people, including non-binary persons and intersex people, facing significant challenges in many of our societies. Not everyone accepts their concept of gender identity, and as a result, trans people and non-binary people face discrimination, harassment, and violence. With this in mind, it is important that governments, decision-makers and the general public  do all they can to build a more inclusive society that recognizes and celebrates different gender identities.

Inclusiveness means ensuring that LGBTI+ individuals have access to the same opportunities as everyone else, including education, employment, and healthcare. And celebrating  diversity and embracing difference, rather than seeking to exclude and marginalize people based on their identity.

We must also be aware of the intersection of various aspects of identity, such as ethnic origin, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. It's important to recognize that individuals within the LGBTI+ community face different challenges based on their ethnic origin, gender, and other factors. For example, disabled people in the LGBTI+ community face higher rates of discrimination than able bodies people. When building a more inclusive society we need to use an intersectional approach that recognizes and addresses the unique challenges faced by different members of the LGBTI+ community.

Legal amendments and policymaking are important tools to push things forward. And on the ILGA Europe Rainbow Map that was published here earlier today we see where we stand in that context.

I am delighted to see Iceland´s fifth place on ILGA Europe Rainbow map and the first place on the Transgender Europe Map. This is the result of some strong policy making as well as a testiment to our LGBTI+ organisations and  activists who work tirelessly toward making a better and more just society.

In the years 2019 and 2020, important legal milestones when it comes to trans people and intersex people were reached in Iceland:

Every person, from the age of 15,  and children under the age of 15 may, with the assistance of their guardians, have the right to change their gender registration in Registers Iceland. No medical requirements can be made for the gender registration change and gender neutral registration is also permitted.

Sex characteristics were included in discrimination legislation and most importantly, we have also made it illegal to apply any unnecessary medical interventions on minors born with atypical sex characteristics. Such interventions can now only be made when the child themselves can give informed consent, giving intersex children the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

We have also put more effort into fighting hate speech and hate crimes. Last spring, a bill was adopted amending Iceland´s General Penal Code to include a provision on hate crime and hate speech protecting a variety of groups, among them intersex persons. And right now, the Icelandic Parliament is debating my proposal on action against hate-speech – something that we need to tackle firmly and decisively – and I hope that the Parliament will pass that proposal this spring.

And finally an action plan on LGBTI rights and equality was put forward and passed in Parliament last year.

While it is hugely important to make changes to the legal frameworks we must also do all we can to ensure and then safeguard social acceptance. These aspects must go hand in hand if we want to see true change.

My government will continue to stand by the human rights of LGBTI+ people and we will make further legal amendments towards bettering our society for all of us.

After all, a society where diversity is enjoyed, and where everyone has an opportunity to live a good life and make the most of their talents, is a better and richer society for all of us.

The fight for LGBTI+ rights is ongoing, and we must remain vigilant in face of the many ongoing challenges. We must also recognize and address the unique challenges faced by different members of the community, including trans people, non-binary people, and intersex people.

We must work towards creating a society that is inclusive of all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Together, we can create a truly accepting world that celebrates diversity in all its forms.

Thank you.

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