Hateful Graffiti on Church’s Pride Flag Now Matter for the Police

Hateful, anti-LGBTQIA+ messages have twice been spray-painted on the Pride flag adorning the steps leading up to Grafarvogskirkja, a Lutheran church in the district of Grafarvogur on the eastern outskirts of Reykjavík. There have been two separate incidents of anti-LGBTQIA+ messages being sprayed on the flag. RÚV reports that the incidents have now been referred to the police.

The first message, reading “ANTICHRIST,” was sprayed on the church’s stairway last Saturday. “This was the path up to the church this morning,” wrote Pastor Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir in a Facebook post that day. “It shows how important the rainbow’s message is. This rainbow clearly needs to stand in front of the church and remind us of fellowship, that all people are equally precious, and that love is love.” Pastor Guðrún ended her post with a rainbow of emoji hearts, as well as the Pride and Trans flags.

A photo uploaded in the comments of the original post showed people painting over the hateful graffiti later that morning. Per the caption: “A Swedish family who came to see the church offered to paint over [the message] immediately.”

Family volunteers to paint over hateful graffiti. Image via Grafarvogskirkja Grafarvogi, Facebook

Only days later, on Monday, a different message was tagged on Grafarvogskirkja’s rainbow flag. This time, it read “LEVITICUS 20:13,” referencing a verse from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible which says that men who have sexual relations with other men should be put to death.

Grafarvogskirkja Grafarvogi, FB

“Our beautiful flag has been scribbled on again,” Pastor Guðrún wrote on Facebook. She added that the same chapter in Leviticus also lists off other people who should be put to death, including (but certainly not limited to): anyone who curses their mother and/or father, people who commit adultery, and men who have sex with women who are on their periods.

“We at Grafarvogskirkja choose rather to follow the message of Jesus Christ, who told us to love one another. We believe that each and every person is one of God’s beloved creations and is allowed to live the life that has been predestined for her/them/him.”

The post continued: “The message of Jesus Christ is in full accordance with human rights declarations, and we at Grafarvogskirkja stand for human rights and fight against hatred and prejudice.”

Authorities Remove Graffiti Supporting New Constitution

A message painted on a wall in downtown Reykjavík last weekend asking “Where is the new constitution?” was removed only two days later, reportedly by government authorities. The removal may have had the opposite effect of that intended – as there has been an uptick in signatures on a petition urging Iceland’s government to adopt the crowdsourced constitution Icelanders voted on in 2012. The movement in support of this constitution appears to have been gaining steam lately.

Between 2010 and 2012, Iceland “crowdsourced” a new constitution which was handed over to Parliament. A national referendum followed, where a majority voted for the document to be used as a foundation for constitutional reform. Yet it was never adopted. Eight years later, a movement in support of that constitution is growing.

Sign painting company Reykjavík Sign Painters revamped a graffiti-covered wall on Skúlagata street in downtown Reykjavík last weekend by covering it with huge lettering reading: “Where is the new constitution?” The wall was on public property and the painters reportedly asked for permission before initiating the project. Just two days later, cleaners appeared in an unmarked van and pressure-washed the wall to remove the message.

Read More: Where is Iceland’s Updated Constitution?

Twitter users expressed outrage at the incident. “What is happening!!!!!! A wall that has been covered in graffiti for many years and is not privately owned is cleaned two days after “Where is the new constitution?” is written on it. Who ordered this and why?” asked Steiney Skúladóttir.

Stundin reports the removal was ordered by Umbra, a management company in the ownership of government ministry offices. The removal of the work appears to have caused a surge in support for the new constitution. A petition demanding Iceland’s government adopt the document has gone from 28,500 signatures to over 31,500 since the message was removed.

Supporters of the 2012 constitution insist it is a much-needed overhaul that better reflects the will of the people on key issues like human rights and use of natural resources. Its critics have claimed its lofty language may cause legal conundrums or its ideals are impossible to achieve. Iceland’s Parliament is currently working on its own revisions of the constitution in a cross-party committee with little direct involvement from the public.

Environment Agency Reports Vandalism to Police

vandalism on Helgafell

The Environment Agency of Iceland has reported recent vandalism of Helgafell to the police. “Individuals’ names and identifying characteristics have been scrawled into the soft rock and it is evident that some of the damage has been made very recently, even in the last few days,” reads a press release from the Agency.

https://www.facebook.com/maria.eliasdottir/posts/10217429112191662

Helgafell is a flat-topped mesa above the town of Hafnarfjörður and a popular hiking destination in the Reykjavík capital area. The mesa consists of palagonite, a soft rock that is easy to carve into. Recently, graffiti has proliferated at the site, some of which includes individuals’ first names as well as explicit images.

“These types of inscriptions are a clear violation of nature conservation laws and hugely disrespectful toward the country’s natural environment, as the violations leave behind damage that can take the wind and weather tens or even hundreds of years to wipe out.” The press release adds that the Agency is doing what it can to repair the damage.

“Damaging nature is a criminal offense, and we encourage travellers to stay vigilant and report violations,” the press release reads. “Help keep our nature unspoiled. If there is no guest book on the mountain peak that you topped, please refrain from writing your name.”

The penalties for such vandalism can include large fines and even prison time, but it may prove difficult to find those responsible.

‘Women’s School’ Vandalised With Misogynistic Graffiti

The premises of Kvennaskólinn, or Kvennó as it’s colloquially known, were vandalized with hateful graffiti last night Vísir reports. “There’s a great deal of misogyny in these messages,” remarked principal Hjalti Jón Sveinsson, “and we’re concerned about this kind of thinking.”

The graffiti was spray painted on the school building and grounds and included phrases such as “Fuck You!” og “Kvennó Lessur,” or “Kvennó Lesbos.”

Kvennaskólinn translates as “The Women’s School,” and was founded as the first secondary school for women in Iceland in 1874. The school was women-only for just over a century, but the first male student being admitted in 1977. Women still make up the majority of the students, but the male population has steadily increased over the years and now stands at 38%.

Hjalti Jón said it’s possible that there’s some sort of secondary school humor behind the messages that he doesn’t understand. However, while there have been various acts of vandalism on the school grounds before, he says there’s never been anything quite like this. “I’d come to work in the morning maybe and someone would have egged or spray-painted the school.”

Hjalti Jón said that the vandalism would be painted over as soon as possible and also that he’d be checking the security camera footage to try and determine who was on the grounds last night. The school is still considering whether or not to refer the matter to the police. Typically in cases like this, Hjalti would just contact the principals of other nearby secondary schools and together, they’d address this kind misogynistic and homophobic thinking directly with their students.

“They were really shocked,” said Hjalti when asked about the students’ reaction to the vandalism. “They found it really humiliating—this is just so far from their way of thinking. They’re hurt and angry.”