I believe in people’s freedom. I believe in people’s freedom to enjoy respect and rights on equal terms with everybody else. I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and the freedom that is the most precious of all, the freedom to breathe. And I also believe in freedom of love. I believe in the freedom to say to another person: “Ég elska þig”, “I love you.”
I am not alone in this view. We Icelanders are united in our desire to safeguard universal human rights, equality in all fields, equal opportunities to show our worth – for our own benefit and that of others. But we must all also honour our own duty in society. Freedoms and rights inevitably entail obligations and responsibilities.
This year marks two decades since the first Pride parade was held in Iceland. The parade is a festive triumph. At the same time, it is a march for recognition, for LGBTQ+ people in Iceland: a celebration of all that has been achieved towards equality, yet also a reminder that more remains to be done. And the population in general look on and applaud the participants, in the knowledge that their campaign is our campaign too. For the Pride parade is a march of freedom for us all.
I have been privileged to receive many honours during my time as president. One of those that means most to me is the accolade of being patron of Samtökin ’78, the National Queer Organisation of Iceland. At this landmark in LGBTQ+ history, I send my sincere good wishes to the members of the organisation, all LGBTQ+ people, and all the people of Iceland.