The Progressive Party’s leader in Reykjavík Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörnsdóttir explained in interviews yesterday that she and fellow party member Guðfinna J. Guðmundsdóttir had been impressed by historian Gústaf Níelsson’s writing but hadn’t been aware of his attitude towards LGBT people until yesterday morning—therefore they had revoked his appointment to the city’s Human Rights Council.
“We had read his articles in Morgunblaðið. He raised certain questions without making a judgment call. According to the information we had, we considered that he hadn’t stepped on the line,” Sveinbjörg reasoned to visir.is.
Sóley Tómasdóttir, the Left-Green Movement’s representative on Reykjavík City Council and the council’s chair, wrote on her Facebook page in response: “They were well aware of Gústaf’s position towards Muslims and multiculturalism in general. They just wanted racism—not homophobia. These are women who have their principles in order.”
Gústaf was active in the debate on building a mosque in Reykjavík last year, suggesting that Iceland prohibit Islam and serve as an example for all of Europe. On radio program Harmageddon in May 2014 he elaborated that Iceland’s Christian values should be protected, stating that “Iceland is the last Christian fort and it’s about to fall.”
In the interview, Gústaf also asked: “Is it prejudice to be of the opinion that it isn’t fortunate to fill the country of Muslims?”
Hildur Sverrisdóttir, who represents the Independence Party on the Human Rights Council, commented on her Facebook page: “The Progressive Party appoints a man to the Human Rights Council who is against Muslims and gays but later apologizes because they didn’t know he was against gays. Can we now stop talking about the mosque debate in the city council election as only being a ‘planning issue’?”
Sveinbjörg’s comment that Reykjavík City should cancel its distribution of a lot to build a mosque in the lead-up to the city council election last year were harshly criticized but may also have led to her and Guðfinna being elected to the council. Before the mosque issue, polls had indicated that the Progressive Party would not earn any seats on the city council.
In response to the reaction to his appointment to the Human Rights Council, Gústaf wrote on his Facebook page: “I draw the bold conclusion that the harsh reaction of those who love freedom of expression and multiculturalism above all is the result of them wanting to silence me with all their might … Of course I will continue unfazed and without hesitation favor Icelandic culture above the poorly defined multiculturalism.”