On Friday May 3, 2013 the Icelandic Minister of the Interior, Ogmundur Jonasson held a formal reception where he presented Hope Knutsson, president of Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association with a formal statement that Sidmennt has now been registered as the first secular life stance organization in Iceland in accordance with the new law on registered religions and life stance organizations which was passed by the Icelandic Parliament (Althing) on January 30th of this year.
A giant step has now been taken towards full equality of life stance organizations and this puts Iceland again in the forefront of human rights victories worldwide. Hope and the rest of the Sidmennt board members expressed deep appreciation for Sidmennt's new status. Our Humanist life stance is now officially recognized by the government. This turning point demonstrates that in Iceland there are progressive people who respect human rights. Icelandic recognition of GLBT rights in recent decades is an excellent example and now people with a secular Humanist philosophy of life are gaining respect and acceptance. Sidmennt is now listed in the national registry and will receive the so-called church tax for people who join through that institution.
Sidmennt has been organizing secular confirmation ceremonies for 25 years and secular and Humanist baby-namings, weddings, and funerals for the past 5 years. Now that Sidmennt is registered, our marriage ceremonies will be legal and couples will no longer have to go to government authorities to have a non-religious wedding. Almost all of the work within Siðmennt which was founded in 1990, has been done on a volunteer basis which has limited its growth. We look forward now to being able to develop our services and programs more fully and to continue to work for separation of church and state and towards a truly secular society where diversity and respect for all life stances and human rights are celebrated.
From left to right: Bjarni Jonsson, Vice-President of Sidmennt; Hope Knutsson, President of Sidmennt; Ogmundur Jonasson, Minister of the Interior; and Ragnhildur Hjaltadottir, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior