Iceland passes historic conversion therapy ban and yes, it’s trans-inclusive

Iceland bans conversion therapy

The Icelandic parliament has passed a law banning so-called conversion therapy practices on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity in a landslide majority.

On Friday (9 June), the Nordic country joined Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, Germany, France, Malta and New Zealand in banning harmful conversion practices

Not a single representative voted against the bill, proposed by Viðreisnar parliamentary party chair and Reform Party MP Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, with 53 voting ‘yes’ and three abstaining

Friðriksson has previously said that conversion practices are “based purely on ignorance and reactionary ideas” and have “no place in our society”, according to the Reykjavik Grapevine.

According to Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, a writer and expert on LGBTQ+ issues in Iceland, the overwhelming majority voting for the ban in the Althingi (Icelandic parliament) showed that the legislation was widely supported, even after transphobic attempts to kill it.

“The legislation had cross party support in parliament, despite attempts from known anti-trans hate groups under English influence to oppose it, and wrongfully claiming they managed to ‘kill the bill’,” she reported on Twitter

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“Their arguments were dismissed as anti-scientific and anti-trans rhetoric.”

Posts on the parenting message board Mumsnet and from UK-based anti-trans accounts on Twitter have erroneously celebrated the ban being dropped in previous days.

Iceland became the first country in the world to have an openly gay head of government in 2009, when Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was appointed Iceland’s first female prime minister.

Iceland’s current prime minister is the Left-Green Movement politician Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

The European nation currently ranks 90/100 on Equaldex’s global LGBTQ+ rights index, a position that will likely improve further when it is updated to reflect the comprehensive conversion therapy ban. 

Iceland recognises same-sex marriage, allows citizens to change their registered gender without medical interventions and register as a third gender with the ‘X’ gender marker on official documents. Same-sex couples can legally adopt in Iceland, and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is illegal under Icelandic law. 

Iceland ranks highly for LGBTQ+ rights on the Equaldex gobal index. (Getty Images)

As the UK lags behind other countries worldwide on implementing a complete, effective and trans-inclusive ban on conversion practices, divisions in the Conservative Party under Rishi Sunak over trans rights have become ever-more pronounced.

Jónsdóttir told PinkNews that the historic vote demonstrates that “justice will prevail over prejudice”. 

“This ban on all conversion practices is an important reminder that vital legal progress for all LGBT+ people isn’t a controversial issue for those that centre justice and compassion in their politics. 

“During what can only be described as a concentrated backlash against trans rights and LGBT+ in general in sends a strong message that progress can be achieved, and that in the end justice will prevail over prejudice.”