Queer Center

Until the 1970s lesbians and gay men were practically invisible in the Icelandic society and many of them were forced to leave the country in the search for more open society. The silence was first broken in 1975 when the first gay man revealed his sexual identity publicly in the local media. As a result living in Iceland was not an option and he moved to Denmark. In 1978 The Lesbian and Gay Organization of Iceland was founded, generally being referred to as 'Samtökin 78'.  it´s establishment a bold initiative was made in making gay men and lesbians visible in Iceland and fighting against prejudices.

In just a few years after it´s establishment Samtökin 78 managed to set up an extensive dialog with the media and politicians. Supporting gay rights and fighting prejudice became a family issue among the Icelanders where family connections are still strong in a population of only 300,000. The first milestone victory on the legal front came in 1996 with the passing of laws on confirmed cohabitation, but even so, gays and lesbians were still barred from adopting or seeking assisted pregnancies in Iceland's free public hospitals.

At the same time an anti-discrimination law took action with minimal opposition mostly limited to Christian fundamentalist congregations, functioning outside the state church of Iceland. Based on this, discrimination on grounds of nationality, color, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation is illegal. Discrimination of any kind is in general very rare in Iceland, but it happens as everywhere else.

On June 27th 2006 yet another important step was taken with a new legislation being approved by the Parliament granting same sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples without any limitations. This includes full adoption rights, making insemination clinics available to lesbian couples and ensures maternity/paternity leave for gay and lesbian couples. 

And in 2010 The Parliament in Iceland voted unanimously to approve same-sex marriage, an important milestone for gay equality. This meant that the wording of marriage legislation includes matrimony between "man and man, woman and woman" and upgrades same sex marriage to be fully equal with marriage.

In only thirty years, attitudes to gays and lesbians have been totally transformed in Iceland. Today gay and lesbian families are enjoying the full social security and coming out today does not anymore force Icelandic gays and lesbians to leave the country as so many of them did thirty years ago.