“Visibility is our strongest weapon.” This was the motto of a solidarity gathering organised in the city centre yesterday in the wake of the Oslo shooting last weekend. The shooter targeted LGBTQ people, and the events have unsettled LGBTQ+ people worldwide.
Austurvöllur square drew crowds yesterday to show solidarity with LGBTQ people in Norway and the victims’ families. The meeting began with a minute of silence, followed by talks by LGBTQ+ activists and a musical performance from one of Iceland’s best-loved artists, Páll Óskar.
“It was such a powerful moment,” said Ingileif Friðriksdóttir, one of the speakers. “Our goal was first and foremost to send warmth, love, and compassion to Norway, but also to urge Icelandic authorities to respond to the backlash in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.” Speakers implored authorities to ensure adequate funding for the education sorely needed for government workers and the public. “We need education for teachers as well as students, and they need to be able to handle matters if an incident of hate speech occurs,” Ingileif stated.
Several politicians were in attendance, both from the municipal and parliamentary levels. During the meeting, representatives from Garðabær, a municipality within the capital area, stated that they would sign on with Samtökin 78, Iceland’s leading LGBTQ+ rights organisation, for LGBTQ+ education, joining four other municipalities who already have such an agreement in place.
According to Ingileif, the backlash among young people is especially unnerving. Three individuals aged 14-16 spoke up at the meeting, stating that they faced bullying every day simply for being themselves. “The backlash is real, and we’re seeing it in action,” Ingileif added. They’re attacking us with actual weapons, while our strongest weapon is simply to exist and show that we’re not afraid of them.”