LGBT rights in Iceland

LGBT rights in Iceland
Location of  LGBT rights in Iceland  (dark green)

in Europe  (dark grey)   [Legend]

Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 1940,
age of consent equalized in 1992
Gender identity/expression Transgender people allowed to change gender without surgery
Military service No standing army
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2010
Adoption Both full joint and stepchild adoption allowed

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Iceland are very progressive. In February 2009, a minority government took office, headed by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, the world's first openly gay head of government in modern times. The Icelandic Parliament amended the country's marriage law on 11 June 2010 by unanimous vote to define marriage as between two individuals, thereby making same-sex marriage legal. The law took effect on 27 June 2010.[1] Also, since 2006, same-sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF. Iceland is frequently referred to as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

A law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity was repealed in 1940. In 1992, the age of consent was set at 14,[2] and in 2007 it was raised to 15, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.[3][4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Registered partnerships for same-sex couples became legal in 1996.[5][6][7] It was replaced by the gender-neutral marriage law on 27 June 2010.

On 23 March 2010, the Government presented a bill, which would allow same-sex couples to marry.[8][9][10][11] On 11 June 2010, Parliament unanimously approved the bill 49 to 0.[1][12] The law took effect on 27 June.[13]

In October 2015, the Church of Iceland voted to allow same-sex couples to marry in its churches.[14]

Adoption and family planning

On 27 June 2006, Icelandic same-sex couples became eligible to a range of laws including public access to IVF insemination treatment and joint adoption of children.[7] Stepchild adoption (where someone can adopt their partner's biological child) has been legal in Iceland since 2000.[15]

Discrimination protections

In 1996, the Althing passed amendments to the Icelandic Penal Code, adding sexual orientation to the country's non-discrimination law. This made it illegal to refuse people goods or services on account of their sexual orientation, or to attack a person or group of people publicly with mockery, defamation, abuse or threats because of their sexual orientation.[16]

Since 2008, it has been illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation in education.[17]

In 2014, the Parliament approved an amendment to the Penal Code, adding gender identity to the list of anti-discrimination grounds.[18]

Until 2018, Iceland possessed no laws prohibiting employment discrimination on any grounds.[19][17][20] A committee that Welfare Minister Eygló Harðardóttir founded in 2014 handed in its conclusions in November 2016, advising the Parliament to pass a general discrimination law. Such a law would include protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.[21] On 11 June 2018, the Parliament approved a law banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, among others. It will take effect on 1 September 2018.[22][23][24]

Gender identity and expression

On 11 June 2012, the Icelandic Parliament voted in favor of a new law relaxing rules surrounding gender identity and allowing comprehensive recognition regarding recognition of acquired gender and enacting gender identity protections.[25] These laws were enacted on 27 June 2012. The laws state that the National University Hospital of Iceland (Icelandic: Landspítali - háskólasjúkrahús) is obligated to create a department dedicated to diagnosing gender dysphoria, as well as performing sex reassignment surgery (SRS). After successfully completing an 18-month process, including living 12 months in accordance their gender, applicants appear before a committee of professionals. If the committee determines that a diagnosis of GID is appropriate, the National Registry is informed and the applicant chooses a new name to reflect their gender and is issued a new ID-number (kennitala) and ID. Sex reassignment surgery is not required for an official name change and gender recognition.

Blood donation

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are currently unable to donate blood in Iceland.[26]

In 2014, a man in Iceland filed a lawsuit against the blood ban, describing the current policy as a clear example of discrimination.[27]

In October 2015, the Icelandic Minister of Health, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, announced his support for regulatory changes to enable MSM in Iceland to donate blood.[28]

Public opinion

A February 2000 Gallup opinion poll showed that 53% of Icelanders supported lesbians' and gay men's right to adopt children, 12% declared their neutrality and 35% were against the right to adopt.[29]

A July 2004 Gallup poll showed that 87% of Icelanders supported same-sex marriage.[29]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society's view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Iceland was ranked first with a GHI score of 79.[30]

Living conditions

Despite its small population, Reykjavík has a visible gay scene, with a few bars and cafés, and some places with a mixed gay and straight crowd. Elsewhere in Iceland, however, the sparse population means there is no gay scene.[31] Akureyri, the biggest city outside the capital area, doesn't have any gay bars, despite the town having a population of about 17,700.

Gay pride parades in Iceland are usually held in August,[31] and are among Iceland's biggest annual events. In 2015, about 100,000 attended the Reykjavík Pride event, representing about 30% of the Icelandic population.[32] In 2016, Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson participated in the Reykjavik Pride Parade, making him the first Icelandic President to attend a gay pride parade.[33]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal (Since 1940)
Equal age of consent (Since 1992)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment (From 2018)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services (Since 1996)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) (Since 1996)
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity (Since 2014)
Same-sex marriage (Since 2010)
Recognition of same-sex unions (Since 1996)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples (Since 2000)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples (Since 2006)
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military No standing army
Right to change legal gender
Conversion therapy on minors outlawed
Homosexuality declassified as an illness
Transvestism declassified as an illness
Transsexuality declassified as an illness
Equal access to IVF for all couples and automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth (Since 2006)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples (Illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation)
MSMs allowed to donate blood (Proposed)

See also


  1. 1 2 Iceland parliament votes for gay marriage
  2. Homosexuality and the Law - Fragments of Icelandic History Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. (Icelandic) The Icelandic Penal Code
    202. gr. Hver sem hefur samræði eða önnur kynferðismök við barn, yngra en 15[fimmtán] ára, skal sæta fangelsi ekki skemur en 1[eitt] ár og allt að 16[sextán] árum.
    Section 202 Anyone who has carnal intercourse or other sexual intimacy with a child younger than 15 years shall be subject to imprisonment for at least 1 year and up to 16 years.
  4. Hver er samræðisaldur á Íslandi? ("What is the age of consent in Iceland?") on Vísindavefurinn
  5. "Iceland : Recognized partnership law, 1996". 1 July 1996. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  6. "Partnership Law In Iceland". Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  7. 1 2 "Important Improvements in Gay and Lesbian Rights in Iceland". 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  8. Iceland Likely to Permit Gay Marriage by June Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Iceland is fine-tuning marriage-equality bill
  10. "Frumvarp til laga um breytingar á hjúskaparlögum og fleiri lögum og um brottfall laga um staðfesta samvist (ein hjúskaparlög)". Alþingi. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  11. Hjúskaparlög, staðfest samvist o.fl. (ein hjúskaparlög)
  12. Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote
  13. "New gay marriage law in Iceland comes into force". Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  14. Icelandic Priests Cannot Deny Gay Marriage
  15. "Adoption of Stepchildren in Gay and Lesbian Families in Iceland". Gay Ottawa Now!. 13 June 2000. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016.
  16. Iceland: Homosexuality and the Law
  17. 1 2 Rainbow Europe: Iceland
  18. The General Penal Code
  19. Country report non-discrimination: Iceland
  22. Jöfn meðferð á vinnumarkaði - 394. mál, lagafrumvarp
  23. Lög um jafna meðferð á vinnumarkaði
  24. Laws finally guarantee equal employment rights for queer people!
  25. Iceland adopts a new comprehensive law on trans issues Archived 27 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. (in Icelandic) Hommar mega giftast en ekki gefa blóð
  27. Iceland: Lawsuit challenges ban on gay men donating blood Pink News, 4 November 2014
  28. “Gay men should be allowed to give blood”
  29. 1 2 "Regnbågsfamiljers ställning i Norden Politik". NIKK Publikationer. July 2004. Page 269
  30. The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
  31. 1 2 Gay Iceland
  32. Reykjavík Pride Parade Today
  33. Reykjavík Pride Parade in Pictures
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