Icelandic PM weds as gay marriage legislation comes into effect

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Iceland’s openly gay Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, has officially married her long-term partner, Jonina Leosdottir. Legislation that allows gay couples to marry came into force yesterday, 27 June, following a unanimous decision adopted by Icelandic parliament on 12 June.

Civil unions for same-sex couples were first approved in Iceland back in 2002, which gave gay couples the same rights and benifits as married heterosexual couples. It was under this new law that Ms Sigurdardottir and Ms Leosdottir first formalised their relationship, now transformed into a marriage under the new law.

Ms Sigurdardottir, 68, who came to power in February 2009, has lived with writer Ms Leosdottir, who is in her fifties, for many years.

Iceland, a very secular and liberal country, legalised homosexuality in 1940. In 1992, the age of sexual consent – for mutually consenting individuals, gay and heterosexual – was set at age 14. The same year, discrimination in goods and services on account of sexual orientation became illegal, as did threats, attacks, mockery or defamation on the same grounds. Civil partnerships became legal in 1996.

The country’s capital, Reykjavik, has its own gay scene, despite the relatively small population and a pride parade takes place in the city every August.

Ms Sigurdardottir is the world’s first – and to date, only – openly gay head of government.