Iceland’s leading LGBTQ+ group has a message for Mike Pence: Láttu þig hverfa!*
In an op-ed published on the Icelandic website Vísir.is earlier this week, Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir — president of the advocacy organization Samtökin 78 — called for the cancellation of the vice president’s planned trip to the Nordic country. On September 4, Pence will visit Iceland before traveling to the United Kingdom and finally Ireland, where he is scheduled to meet with openly gay Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Although Pence is getting the red carpet treatment in the Emerald Isle, the reception in Iceland is already chilly. According to Þorvaldsdóttir, Trump’s second-in-command has “fought his entire career — in politics and beyond — with full force against queer rights.”
“Mike Pence is in favor of us being discriminated against,” she claimed, pointing to the passage Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015. “He feels it is natural for people to deny us service for who we are. As governor, he signed a law in 2015 that authorized discrimination against queer people based on religious beliefs.
RFRA allowed companies to refuse to do business with LGBTQ+ customers if serving them would conflict with their faith. The law was later “fixed” to remove discriminatory elements following nationwide calls to boycott the state.
Þorvaldsdóttir further discusses Pence’s alleged support for anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy during his 2000 Congressional run. On his campaign website, he proposed redirecting funding for HIV/AIDS treatment to organizations which assist people “seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Pence has denied the language referred to “pray the gay away” therapy but has not condemned the discredited practice either.
In addition to being pro-discrimination, Þorvaldsdóttir’s op-ed says Pence is “against our marriages.” When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, the Indiana governor urged his state to adopt a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying.
“Mike Pence has caused queer people suffering for decades,” Þorvaldsdóttir writes, noting that his boss, Donald Trump, once “joked” in a New Yorker profile that Pence wants to “hang” LGBTQ+ people.
The advocacy group leader concluded any formal invitation extended to Pence shows “disregard” for LGBTQ+ Icelanders.
“Now the government of Iceland intends to welcome Mike Pence, politely talk to him about business... and strengthen relations with the United States,” Þorvaldsdóttir says. “[...] We will not be silent on the fact that he is welcomed to this country. Not a chance.”
Iceland’s government has yet to respond to the op-ed or state whether it intends to move forward with the vice president’s visit. While rumors circulated earlier this year that Pence had been banned from the historically liberal country after it passed legislation banning religious fanaticism, those reports stemmed from a satirical blog, Laughing in Disbelief. Snopes.com has rated the claim “False.”
The tiny island nation was the first in the world to elect an openly LGBTQ+ head of state, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.
* Láttu þig hverfa! means “make yourself disappear” in Icelandic.