Bishop of Iceland Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir has apologised to the gay and lesbian community of Iceland on behalf of the country’s National Church. The apology was made during an interview on talk show Kastljós yesterday evening.
Reporter Einar Þorsteinsson asked Agnes about the position the previous Bishop, Karl Sigurbjörnsson, took on same sex marriage. In 2016, under Karl’s leadership, the National Church strongly protested a bill introduced to protect the rights of homosexual people. The bill proposed granting pastors within the National Church the authority to wed same sex couples. In an interview taken at that time, Karl stated “I think we owe it to [the institution of] marriage to not toss it on the garbage heap without considering what we’re doing.”
Karl’s words were strongly criticised and the bill was eventually passed, allowing religious organisations to wed same sex couples. Einar asked Agnes whether homosexual people had the right to an apology from the church due to Karl’s words.
“I can definitely apologise to people for the church acting this way and hurting people and having caused them both pain and trouble and difficulty,” answered Agnes. “I’m keen to apologise for that.”
LGBTQIA+ activitsts acknowledged that Agnes’ apology was a step forward, though perhaps not far enough. “Well done on her part, the time had come,” wrote Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, chairperson of the National Queer Organisation, in a Facebook post. “But I also point out that a large portion of those who suffered from the church’s reaction were bisexual and pansexual people. We deserve to be included when our legal rights are discussed.”
Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, chairperson of Trans Ísland, called the apology a “great and timely step,” adding “I also think it’s important to point out that bisexual and pansexual people were also affected by the actions of the National Church referred to here, and this group has almost always been invisible in discussions of these issues as well as in many other rights issues.”