Halldóra Mogensen, MP for the Pirate Party, and Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, Chairperson of the Reform Party, have expressed strong misgivings about the way in which incoming Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarssson and his newly appointed assistant, Independence Party MP Brynjar Níelsson, will handle issues related to the rights of women, RÚV reports. Jón has said that he will focus on reviewing the status and treatment of sexual offenses in Iceland, but both Jón and Brynjar’s voting record has been called into question, with Þorgerður Katrín saying that when it comes to “women’s liberation issues,” she does not trust either man’s politics.
Halldóra and Þorgerður Katrín’s critique cited Jón and Brynjar’s vote on a specific bill from 2019. The bill in question extended the window within which pregnant individuals are allowed to obtain an abortion for any reason to 22 weeks. Previously, abortions were only allowed after 16 weeks under specific circumstances. The abortion bill was presented by former Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir and passed in 2019 by a margin of 40 to 18. Both Brynjar and Jón voted against the bill.
“I find this strange,” said Halldóra. “I can’t imagine that the Left-Greens are very enthusiastic about this appointment either. Jón is taking on an enormous and important set of issues and he’s hiring an assistant who has, in the course of his entire parliamentary career, only submitted one parliamentary issue, he’s only submitted a single parliamentary issue, and that was the bill that revolved around imprisoning parents who restrict custody access. It says an incredible amount about a person’s politics I think it’s dangerous to know that these two men are going to work together to take on sexual violence issues and I don’t believe that properly addressing these issues is really in the cards.”
When asked if she trusted Jón and Brynjar on such issues as improving the position of victims of sexual offenses, Þorgerður Katrín responded: “No, not when it comes to these sorts of issues, although I’ve had good collaborations with Jón and Brynjar over the years. I’m fond of these men, I admit, but on the other hand, their politics cannot be overlooked when it comes, for instance, to women’s liberation issues. The abortion bill that Svandís put forward—who was it that did not support that? The Independence Party leadership, Jón Gunnarsson, Brynjar Níelsson. They voted against it.”
Pressure groups and activists have also been vocal in their displeasure at Brynjar’s appointment. For his part, however, Jón stuck by the decision, saying, “I’m not worried about this discussion, it isn’t bothering me. Much of what has been said is not worth responding to and not objective nor balanced. I let such things fall on deaf ears and don’t let them bother me. We’re going to let our actions speak.”