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How a Gay Rights Maverick Helped Topple Iceland’s Government

The first openly gay man in Iceland had to flee. But by 2008, Hörður Torfason was back in his country, helping to organize protests.

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“To me and I think most people I talk to, if we hadn’t had the Cutlery Revolution, the far right-wing party would still be in power,” he observed.

The latest development has been a constitution written by the people of Iceland themselves. Any Icelandic citizen could run to be considered for a position at the drafting table. Furthermore, everyone in the country could monitor the writing of the new constitution and submit suggestions via Facebook and Twitter. A referendum to ratify the constitution will be held Oct. 10.

“Things will not change unless we get a new constitution,” Tolfason said. “It’s still going to be the battle of the winter to come, I think.”

Torfason has received numerous awards for his enduring efforts as a human rights activist, including The Tupilak, from the Swedish Gay Organisation for outstanding contribution in the gay rights field in 1995 and 2009, and the Icelandic Social Democratic Party for his courage, bravery and honesty in human right struggles in 2003.

While securing donations for part of his trips and projects, much funding for Torfason’s activism comes from his own pocket, and demands most of his time and attention.

“My aim is not to go into politics or make money out of it… This is a kind of duty on the part of my society. I’m ready to do the work.”