Iceland LGBT group calls for government to reconsider Mike Pence visit

TOPSHOT - US Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the creation of a new branch of the military, Space Force, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on August 9, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The president of an Icelandic LGBT+ organisation has said a planned Mike Pence visit in September is “disrespectful” to the country’s queer community.

The White House confirmed Pence’s visit on Wednesday (August 14), and said: “He will highlight Iceland’s strategic importance in the Arctic, NATO’s efforts to counter Russian aggression in the region, and opportunities to expand mutual trade and investment.”

It also confirmed that Pence will visit the UK and Ireland afterwards.

The president of Samtökin ’78, the national queer organisation of Iceland, has criticised the visit in an opinion piece for Icelandic online newspaper Vísir, titled “Not a chance, Mike Pence”.

Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir called for Icelandic authorities to reconsider the visit, and wrote: “Mike Pence is against our marriages. He was so wholeheartedly against them that, in 2013, he signed laws as the governor of Indiana which made it a criminal offence to apply for a marriage certificate.”

US Vice President Mike Pence, who was criticised by gay Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg

US Vice President Mike Pence will also visit the UK and Ireland. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

The president of LGBT+ organisation Samtökin ’78 cited Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT+ record.

She went on to cite other examples on Pence’s anti-LGBT+ record, including when Pence signed a bill in 2015 allowing organisations in Indiana to discriminate on religious grounds, his role in the US trans military ban, and his alleged support of conversion therapy. 

She continued: “Now the government of Iceland intends to receive Mike Pence, and talk courteously with him about business alliances and in doing so strengthening the alliance with USA.

“All such plans are disrespectful to the LBTQ people in Iceland. We will not sit quietly over the fact that he is invited to the country. Not a chance.”

People from Iceland have also spoken out on social media, with one writing on Twitter: “I hope my fellow Icelanders will join me by telling him that he is NOT welcome in our country!”

Iceland had been a leader in LGBTQ rights. Given the repressive beliefs of [Pence] and his wife when it comes to the rights of anyone to celebrate love, I strongly urge [prime minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir] to dis-invite them and ban them from visiting Iceland,” wrote another.

Earlier this month, Pence was criticised for attending conferences and appearing on stage with three “anti-LGBT” groups in less than a week.