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Bill Proposes Dissolving Naming Committee

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Bill Proposes Dissolving Naming Committee

Alþingi parliament

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

MPs of the Reform Party, Pirate Party, and Social Democratic Alliance have put forth a bill proposing substantial amendments to Iceland’s naming laws, including dissolving the Icelandic Naming Committee, RÚV reports.

The Icelandic Naming Committee maintains a register of approved Icelandic given names and governs the introduction of new names into Icelandic culture. Its existence has been a topic of debate in recent years.

The bill’s proponents believe Iceland’s current naming laws restricting the introduction of new family names protect the rights of a very particular group of Icelanders and are incongruent with the multicultural, enlightened society in which Icelanders live today. Over the last century, Icelanders of means took on family names as a way of marking their status, a practice which the Naming Committee now prohibits. “Public interest in living in a free society, where equality is guaranteed, is far more important than the interests of the few descendants of those who were granted the right to choose a family name in the last century by virtue of their privileged or financial status,” stated the MPs.

A common argument in support of the Naming Committee is its role in preventing parents from giving children a name that could prove harmful (for example by making them the subject of bullying). The bill’s proponents point out that the Naming Committee has made very few such rulings. They further state it is not the role of the Naming Committee to advise parents on parenting.

“The Icelandic language and its consequent naming tradition thrive when those who use it are trusted to handle it without interference and burdensome laws which force people to sue their courts just in order to be named what they want to be named,” stated the MPs in the introduction to the bill.

The MPs behind the bill add that Iceland’s naming laws are limiting to trans people, both by restricting given names based on a child's sex and the rights of individuals to change their name. The parties argue it is not the legislator’s role to determine which names are female and which male.

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