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Human Rights Council Appointment Withdrawn

The Progressive Party’s councilpersons in Reykjavík, Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir and Guðfinna J. Guðmundsdóttir, have decided to withdraw the appointment of Gústaf Níelsson as the party’s deputy representative on the city’s Human Rights Council after it was protested by fellow party members, among them Minister of Social Affairs Eygló Harðardóttir and Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, and others.

“Gústaf has repeatedly expressed views that are at odds with the Progressive Party’s values, views that reflect completely other aspects than the party’s policies on general human rights, the rights of LGBT people, immigrants and various minority groups,” Eygló wrote on her Facebook page. In her post, she urged the councilpersons to revoke his appointment.

Gústaf’s appointment has garnered considerable attention, not least as Gústaf is a member of the Independence Party and has publicly declared his opposition to gay marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

He is also among those who has ‘liked’ the Facebook page of PEGIDA in Iceland, an organization fighting the Islamization of Europe, points out.

Gunnar Bragi wrote on his Facebook page that while Guðfinna reasoned that different voices should be heard on the city’s Human Rights Council, this particular voice does not reflect the values of the Progressive Party and Gústaf is not even a member of the party. Gunnar Bragi also encouraged Sveinbjörg and Guðfinna to reconsider their decision.

The councilpersons released a statement today claiming that Gústaf’s appointment had been a mistake and not in line with the party’s policies. Greta Björg Egilsdóttir has been appointed in his stead, they wrote, reports.

Gústaf told RÚV that he is not disappointed about his appointment being withdrawn as he never asked for a seat on the Human Rights Council. “I guess the party’s chair [in Reykjavík, Sveinbjörg] was being scared to death,” he commented.

His appointment was approved by ten votes at a City Council meeting yesterday. Five councilpersons abstained, including Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson.

Samtökin ‘78, the organization upholding LGBT rights in Iceland, expressed their concern over Gústaf’s appointment on their Facebook page this morning, demanding that the party’s leadership explain their decision and the party’s policies on human rights.

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