Iceland Heats Up Over Battle to Block Porn
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — A new moderate-right government in Iceland is being pressured to block online pornography as part of an ongoing cultural debate over free speech and gender equality.
Helmed primarily by left-leaning politicos and activists, those in favor of the ban have proposed blocking access to websites, instating web filters and making it illegal to use an Icelandic credit card to purchase pornography.
The antiporn measures were originally introduced under the guise of former leftist Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir. Sigurdardottir’s ousting by new Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in April has added gusto to the debate, as the moderate-right coalition seeks to steer the country away from the proto-legislation.
“There are people who want to silence this discussion but it is a discussion that will not be silenced,” former Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson said. “People want to confuse this with an argument about freedom of expression but I would say it is those who are trying to silence the debate who are not respecting freedom of expression.”
According to a report by The Economist, the movement is the result of a strong feminist force in Iceland that wishes to eradicate degrading or violent images of women in the public sphere. Iceland ranked first on the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Gender Gap report, which compares progress towards sexual equality in 135 countries.
Despite Iceland’s apparent liberal atmosphere— the former prime minister was openly lesbian and mini-vibrators are sold at grocery store checkouts — its antagonism towards porn has historic legislative roots.
An unenforced ban on selling pornography has lingered since 1869; and in 2010, Iceland outlawed strip clubs, just one year after criminalizing buying sex (but not selling sex).