Iceland’s naming committee has elected not to approve the name of a child named Alex Emma Ómarsdóttir, mbl.is reports. The four-year-old girl is currently listed in the national register as ‘Stúlka’ — or ‘Girl’ — Ómarsdóttir.
The committee’s rationale for turning down the name Alex was that they did not deem it to be a girl’s name. Alex is, however, an approved name for boys. According to law, children must be given gender-appropriate names. The girl’s parents are going to pursue the issue in court, pointing out that Alex is used as name for both boys and girls in many other countries.
Pirate MP Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson had some harsh words to say about the committee’s ruling in parliament today, declaring Iceland’s naming laws to be a “historical phenomenon that no one would ever want to reinstate in a free country.”
“…I read about a four-year-old girl named Alex,” Helgi said in his address to parliament. “Her name is Alex, she was given that name. It’s a lovely name—I know a woman who is named Alex. But this young girl may not be named Alex. And why can’t she be named Alex? Because the state has for some reason decided that it is within its purview to decide what she may or may not be named.”
“…How did it occur to Icelanders to ask the state whether they may be named something like Alex if they are of the “wrong” gender?” Helgi continued. “How did we come up with this? It’s preposterous…and what’s even more preposterous is that people think it is somehow okay and make determinations on things like the rights of children, that children have a right not to bear ridiculous names. That’s why there are child protection laws—no one’s objecting to those. That’s why there are child protection committees that oversee such things. But laws about people’s names were not established to protect children, rather to protect traditions, to protect the power of the state to control what people in this country are named, which is preposterous.”