1 min

A brief legal history

Iceland’s first penal code comes into effect, criminalizing sexual intercourse between two individuals of the same sex, irrespective of age or consent. Prison sentences were handed out every year that the indecent-conduct provision formed part of the code.

Gudmundur Sigurjónsson Hofdal, a wrestling champion who participated in the 1908 Olympics, is sentenced to prison after admitting to “carnal relations with other men” over the previous 15-18 years.

Hofdal wins granted a royal pardon.

The Althing (Icelandic parliament) abolishes the indecent-conduct provision, decriminalizing homosexuality for anyone 18 and over.

A proposed parliamentary resolution on the abolition of discrimination against homosexuals is placed before the Althing, but is unsuccessful.

A proposal identical to that of 1985 is passed by The Althing. The Prime Minister appoints an investigative committee, which produces a report in 1994 that provides the basis for legislative changes over the next two decades.

Icelandic politicians also choose to eliminate age of consent discrimination by matching the consensual age for anal sex (18) to that of vaginal sex (14). (In Canada this year, the Conservative federal government raised the age of consent for vaginal sex from 14 to 16 years, while maintaining a discriminatory difference for consent to anal sex at 18 years.)

The Althing grants same-sex registered partnerships equal status with heterosexual marriage, with the exception that neither adoption nor in-vitro fertilisation is permitted.

The Althing also amends the general penal code to include sexual orientation as prohibited grounds for discrimination. This makes it illegal to refuse people goods or services on account of their sexual orientation, or to attack a person or group of people publicly with mockery, defamation, abuse or threats because of their sexual orientation.

The Althing grants same-sex couples full legal rights of marriage, but denies churches and religious groups the authority to perform the legal ceremony.

Jun 27, 2008.
Ministers of churches can now join same-sex couples in legal marriage.