Gays can soon travel to Iceland to marry


(eTN) – It looks like the buzz is once again on Iceland. This time, however, the news has nothing to do with volcanic eruptions or travel delays, but rather praise for “eliminating barriers to same-sex marriage.” The Nordic country is set to legalize same-sex marriage this weekend, according to United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay.

Pillay, whose official title is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is said to have wrapped up her official visit to Iceland on Friday commending Iceland “for the significant progress it has achieved through recent legislation removing legal impediments to same-sex marriages.”

Iceland will become the ninth country to legalize same-sex marriage following legislation that passed the country’s parliament earlier this month. Same-sex marriage is already legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden, as well as in some areas of the United States and Mexico.

During her visit, which was the first ever trip to Iceland by a UN human rights chief, Pillay met Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson, Justice and Human Rights Minister Ragna Árnadóttir and other senior government officials, as well as representatives of civil society and academia. She also addressed the University of Iceland in the capital, Reykjavik.

With this latest development, Iceland may soon follow in the steps of Nepal by luring gay couples to its mountainous steps. Nepal Tourist Board in March this year announced it was now offering gay weddings on the base camp of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Nepal’s tourism authorities believe gay tourists generally tend to spend more than backpackers who prefer cheap tours.

“They do have a lot of income … they are high-spending consumers. If they behave well, if they have money, we don’t discriminate,” the UK paper Sun quoted Aditya Baral of the Nepal Tourism Board as saying.