Former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr will appeal a decision by the National Registry which prevents him from changing his legal name from Jón Gunnar Kristinsson to Jón Gnarr, which he has gone by since he was a child. According to the National Registry ‘Gnarr’ does not fulfill Icelandic naming laws and it is not permitted to adopt a new surname.
In November last year, Jón announced that he would seek citizenship of another country, pointing out that foreign citizens are free to keep their last names when they move to Iceland while Icelanders must follow Icelandic tradition and law. According to Jón, this breaks international human rights law.
“You see, family names are banned here. It’s to protect some Icelandic tradition bla-bla-bla. Immigrants used to be forced to denounce their names and take up Icelandic names. It’s a violation of international human rights so [Icelandic authorities] were forced to change it in the 90s. Icelandic parents are not allowed to name their child Jesus. But a lot of immigrants with Icelandic citizenship are named Jesus,” he wrote.
Jón’s lawyer also believes that it is against the Icelandic Constitution to allow some people to change their surnames and not others, visir.is reports.
Jón said in November that he would seek citizenship of another country so that he could leave Iceland, have his name legally recognized abroad and then return as a foreigner in order to be able to keep his chosen name.
Icelandic naming laws have been a topic of heated discussion in Iceland in recent months after several high profile cases. Blær Bjarkardóttir, a 15-year-old who had been known as ‘girl’ in the National Registry, sued Icelandic authorities to have her name officially approved last year.
In a similar case in June, ten-year-old Harriet Cardew made headlines when she was denied a new passport on the basis that the authorities were no longer issuing passports to individuals without names approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee (her previous passport was issued under the name ‘girl’ Cardew).