The planned visit of US Vice President Mike Pence to Iceland has been met with backlash from the national LGBT+ organisation, Samtökin ’78. The group are calling on Icelandic authorities to reconsider the visit.
Pence is confirmed to visit Iceland on September 4, two days before his visit to Ireland. According to a White House statement, his trip will focus on “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.”
Following the announcement of Pence’s visit, the chairperson of Samtökin ’78 heavily criticised him in an opinion piece, titled Not so, Mike Pence, published online in the paper ‘Vísir’.
“Mike Pence is against our marriages. He is so strongly against them that in 2013, he signed as governor of Indiana law that made it punishable for same-sex couples to try to apply for marriage certificates,” said Thorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, the chairperson of Samtökin.
Thorbjörg listed Pence’s record of anti-LGBT+ actions, including his stance on refusing to hire LGBT+ candidates and being in favour of ‘Dont Ask, Don’t Tell’. She says in the article, “Mike Pence has caused queer people suffering for decades.”
Numerous people from Iceland have voiced their outrage at the planned visit on social media. One person stated: “Iceland had been a leader in LGBTQ rights. Given the repressive beliefs of @VP and his wife when it comes to the rights of anyone to celebrate love, I strongly urge @katrinjak to dis-invite them and ban them from visiting Iceland”.
Iceland had been a leader in LGBTQ rights. Given the repressive beliefs of @VP and his wife when it comes to the rights of anyone to celebrate love, I strongly urge @katrinjak to dis-invite them and ban them from visiting Iceland. https://t.co/parE44Robh
— Jamie Holly (@JamieHolly) August 15, 2019
Hey ICELAND – do NOT allow these lying grifters into your country. They are not your friends. You are under no obligation to let them visit. Cancel their visit.
— Mr. Jaggers (@MrJaggers333) August 15, 2019
The online reaction from Iceland mirrors the reaction in Ireland. People were quick to respond to Ambassador Edward F. Crawford statement on Twitter: “Ireland looks forward to this important visit by Vice President Pence”. The comment section was flooded with statements such as: “We are in me hole” and “No we don’t. Him and “mother” can sod off”.
Ireland looks forward to this important visit by Vice President Pence. https://t.co/qwYTuQptRD
— Ambassador Edward F. Crawford (@USAmbIreland) August 16, 2019
One person commented: “We are appalled by the inhumane treatment of migrants by Pence and colleagues in the US, as he visits the place his own ancestors emigrated from. We are equally disgusted by his treatment and opinions of women in society, and LGBTQ+ people. Níl fáilte roimhe.”
The National LGBT Federation (NXF) is also raising concerns about the visit, with its Advocacy & Communications spokesperson Adam Long stating the following:
“Mike Pence has an extremely troubling record when it comes to LGBT+ rights. As Governor of Indiana, he sought to codify discrimination against LGBT+ citizens. As US Vice President, he has played a central role in the Trump Administration’s shameful rolling back of numerous equality regulations.
“These concerns must be raised by the Irish government – who have committed to advocating globally for LGBT+ rights – during his planned visit here”.
Pence will be visiting Iceland, Ireland and the UK this September. Thorbjörg states in the article: “All such programs are pure and clever disregard for the community of queer people in Iceland. We will not be silent on the fact that he is welcomed to this country. Not a chance.”
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