Some basic background for those of you who don’t follow Icelandic politics:
Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is the prime minister of Iceland — she’s the world’s first openly gay PM, married to Jónina Leósdóttir, and she and her wife recently visited the Faroe Islands “to try to boost political and cultural ties between the neighbouring territories.”
Jenis av Rana is a member of Parliament and leader of the fundamentalist Christian political party, Midflokkurin.
It seems that there was a state dinner in the Faroe Island capital of Tórshavn.
Av Rana refused to attend, though, because the lesbians were coming.
Mr av Rana, who is also a general practitioner and a preacher, pointed out that his political party is formally opposed to homosexuality.
“Were I to participate in the official dinner, it would be the same as saying that I support a union that is contrary to nature and condemned by the Bible. And that’s something I will not risk under any circumstances,” he said.
Talk about over-reacting… at least some sensible voices are speaking up:
Kaj Leo Johannesen, the Faroese prime minister, condemned the anti-gay outbursts, saying Mr av Rana should be “ashamed of himself”.
Opposition leader Høgni Hoydal, a former deputy prime minister, told The Irish Times in an interview that he too was “ashamed of the MPs’ behaviour”.
Ms Sigurdardóttir and her wife “were representing the whole Icelandic nation” and snubbing them was utterly unacceptable, he said.
Arni Zachariassen, a Christian, wrote a wonderful open letter to the Icelandic leader to let her know he is ashamed of av Rana:
… I want to tell you that I was truly saddened and embarrassed by what Jenis av Rana, leader of Miðflokkurin, did yesterday by declining to take part in an official banquet with you, merely because of your sexuality. Not only is this saddening and embarrassing because Jenis is a Faroese politician and he, even though I did not vote for him, in some way represents me, but also because, like Jenis, I’m a Christian.
It’s saddening for me to see my faith, which I understand to be based on and lived out in love, be used as an excuse for homophobic intolerance. Christianity is the refuge of “the least of these”, those who are hated, marginalised and persecuted. It’s not an elaborate justification of self-righteousness and bigotry that some try to make it. Neither is it a cheap way to acquire political power in order to spread that same self-righteousness and bigotry.
I know that I speak for the majority of Faroese Christians when I say that you are more than welcome to visit our country and if the occasion arose, you and your wife both would be more than welcome to eat at our tables.
This sort of thing also means a lot more when it is coming from other Christians. We atheists always speak out against fundamentalist mentality but it seems moderate Christians are happy to let it grow and grow until it reaches critical mass and explodes. Only then will they speak out. The world needs more Arni Zachariassens speaking out against the Jenis av Ranas.
Reinert adds in an email:
Jenis av Rana later made the claim (article in Danish), to the Danish newspaper Politiken, that he has the people (of the Faroes) on his side.
This spurred a massive counter-reaction and a Facebook-group called “Jenis does not have the people on his side” now has over 4.000 members. Considering that the Faroe Islands are inhabited by only 50.000 people and that the Facebook-group supporting Jenis av Rana has only 97 members as of writing this, the number is quite significant.
Needless to say, it is very important to some of us Faroe Islanders, atheists and moderate Christians alike, that we are not put into the same category as these bigots.
I’m amazed that this is such a big story when, in America, I feel like we see this on such a regular basis — Christian politicians saying awful things about gays/lesbians.
How great it would be if those Christian politicians had little to no support…