Opið bréf til dóms­­mála­ráð­herra: They say being Icelandic is a privilege

Jón Eðvarð Kristínarson skrifar

They say being Icelandic is a privilege. 

I have always been Icelandic and yet I have not had Icelandic citizenship for the most part of my life. I had to apply for it like any other foreigner.

My mother is Icelandic and gave birth to me here in Reykjavík, Iceland. Nonetheless, Icelandic law states that because my father is a foreigner I would not be granted Icelandic citizenship. Period.

When I try to explain this to people they are shocked. Because in an alternate universe, where my mother is the foreigner but my dad the Icelander, that married couple of four years would have had an Icelandic baby boy who would have been granted citizenship as a matter of fact.

So yes, it certainly is a privilege to have Icelandic citizenship, simply being Icelandic is however not enough. The Icelandicness, sort of speak, according to this law is legitimate only if you are male but not if you are female. And they say the patriarchy is a myth.

Over the years I wondered why my mother was reluctant to go back but after my application for citizenship, I think I understand. She is old now and I won’t bother her with questions but I will bother you, Mr Jón Gunnarsson, as Minister of Justice in Iceland.

For my application for Icelandic citizenship, I had to contact my elderly parents via phone and have them find and send me numerous old documents from the US - mostly obviously those documents regarded the legitimacy of my mother’s existence. I had to fill out forms, apply and wait. I had to pay fees, make trips back and forth and wait some more. I had to make phone calls that resolved nothing but only added more waiting time. It took months to have my citizenship granted to me but in some ways, you could say I have been waiting for 49 years. Realizing the effect this law has had on my life it feels like I have been waiting when I should never have been waiting in the first place. Why did Jón from the alternate universe, the one who had an Icelandic father but a foreign mother, not have to wait like this.

This law is humiliating to Icelandic women and a disgrace to a nation that claims to be fair and democratic to all.

I write this letter to you Jón, as Minister of Justice, becaæuse I want justice for myself and for the children born to mothers like my mother. Mothers who were made to suffer shame when there was none. I wonder how many are there out there like me? How many of them have done what I did and obediently applied, paid and waited for their citizenship which should have already been theirs?

How many of them are still out there oblivious, like I was, to the fact that we have been shunned of our legal birthright to Icelandic citizenship?

I want to ask you Jón, as the Minister of Justice to the Icelandic people, what are the statistics of this law? How many Icelandic women gave birth during 1964-1982 to children with foreign fathers? Did the Icelandic government even keep a record of this?

The reason I’m writing about this now and in public is that this law is still having an effect on the quality of my life. Having had my applied citizenship for five years now I am still confused and waiting. Because of my applied citizenship my daughter is unable to join me as the child of an Icelander who has Icelandic citizenship. Icelandic law still considers me a foreigner in this respect.

If my citizenship was as valid as the citizenship granted the other children born to Icelandic fathers at the time of this law - my daughter would be here with me now.

In all this I can count myself luckily, the US received me as a US citizen. Otherwise I would be part of the millions that are indeed stateless and without the right to healthcare, education or any other legal rights people generally take for granted.

In this way, Icelandic law on citizenship discriminates based on nationality and gender and should not only be abolished but Alþingi should investigate this, locate the people who have suffered this law and offer their now grownup children immediate and unconditional citizenship.

Höfundur er Íslendingur síðan 1972. Íslenskur ríkisborgari síðan desember 2016.

Athugið. Vísir hvetur lesendur til að skiptast á skoðunum. Allar athugasemdir eru á ábyrgð þeirra er þær rita. Lesendur skulu halda sig við málefnalega og hófstillta umræðu og áskilur Vísir sér rétt til að fjarlægja ummæli og/eða umræðu sem fer út fyrir þau mörk. Vísir mun loka á aðgang þeirra sem tjá sig ekki undir eigin nafni eða gerast ítrekað brotlegir við ofangreindar umgengnisreglur.




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