Iceland in Uproar Over Secret Recording of Politicians’ Sexist Remarks

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Many Icelanders are calling for the resignations of politicians who have been recorded in a bar utilizing sexist and obscene language about feminine colleagues, together with a disabled former member of Parliament.

A number of politicians — together with former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, former Overseas Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and a feminine minister, Anna Kolbrun Arnadottir — met at a bar known as Klaustur two weeks in the past in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, ordered beers and spent greater than three hours speaking.

A person sitting close by overheard the dialog, made a recording together with his cellphone and despatched it to the information media.

The recording went viral after it was posted on-line final week, spurring nationwide outrage in a rustic that has a feminine prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, and that prides itself on its gender equality file after topping the World Financial Discussion board’s gender hole index for a number of years. This yr, a legislation was handed that requires firms and authorities businesses to show they’re paying women and men equally.

A few of the politicians who have been recorded have apologized.

Mr. Sveinsson, the previous overseas minister, who has a popularity for being a champion of ladies’s rights, is heard on the recording mocking a feminine lawmaker for coming ahead as a part of the “Me Too” motion and laughing at home violence accusations made in opposition to a former member of Parliament.

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Some within the group expressed a want to sleep with specific feminine colleagues. One individual warned that one such lady couldn’t be trusted as a result of she “performs on males like girls know finest.”

The political profession of one other lady is questioned as a result of she is “not as sizzling this yr” and her magnificence is “fading quick.”

Ms. Arnadottir, the one feminine politician on the desk, is heard at one level responding, “Can I ask you to think about if this was a male politician you’re talking of?” On the recording, the lads erupt in laughter.

Icelanders took to social media to precise disgust. “My burning query is but this,” one user tweeted. “The place on the Centrist Occasion hot-or-not scale do I stand?” An leisure web site, Nutiminn, created a quiz asking customers to guess whether or not a sure quote got here from a rap tune or the tapes.

Many individuals have been particularly disturbed by the way in which some within the group referred to Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled former member of Parliament. One individual known as her “an island,” a doable reference to that indisputable fact that she makes use of a wheelchair that lets her lie flat.

Ms. Haraldsdottir, who obtained a private apology from Mr. Gunnlaugsson, mentioned that with none type of motion such apologies have been empty.

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“The M.P.s don’t contemplate what they did a violation,” she mentioned by phone on Wednesday. “That’s the message they ship by not resigning. And it hurts as a lot because the precise act.”

She added, “My physique has been on everybody’s lips previously days, and I discover it very uncomfortable. I’m wondering what influence this can have on me and different disabled individuals, like disabled kids.”

4 of the lawmakers, together with Mr. Gunnlaugsson, a former chairman of the Progressive Occasion, apologized for his or her “insensitive remarks” however mentioned the feedback had been made in a non-public dialog.

“It was not our intention to harm anybody, and it’s clear that our method of talking at the moment is inexcusable,” they mentioned in a joint assertion revealed final week. “We’re decided to be taught from this and can attempt our utmost to be well mannered and respectful to our colleagues.”

Two of the lawmakers have been faraway from the Folks’s Occasion however proceed to serve in Parliament. Two others have taken depart.

A survey revealed Monday by the pollster Maskina discovered that 80 % of Icelanders thought the lads on the recording ought to resign, and that 74 % believed Ms. Arnadottir ought to accomplish that.

Ms. Arnadottir, a member of the Centrist Occasion, mentioned on Wednesday that she wouldn’t resign.

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The bar patron who made the recording has spoken solely anonymously to the information media, saying that he was appalled by what he heard and determined to remain till the top.

When the group was leaving, he instructed the newspaper DV, one lawmaker requested if the person had been sitting there the complete time. One other dismissed him as a vacationer, he mentioned.

Halldora Mogensen, a lawmaker with Iceland’s Pirate Occasion, described the temper in Parliament after the tapes have been launched as “poisonous” and expressed concern about how colleagues would transfer previous the scandal.

“The targets of this terrible discuss, will they only need to proceed to work with them like nothing occurred?” she mentioned.

Some particulars of the recording have been the topic of appreciable hypothesis within the information media. One concept held that squeaky noises heard at one level might have been one of many politicians imitating a seal when speaking about Ms. Haraldsdottir. However as a result of these noises didn’t immediate a response on the desk, others thought it was likelier to be the sound of a squeaky chair.

In a tweet, Ms. Haraldsdottir tried to make mild of the hypothesis: “This was not a chair. This was not a bicycle. This was almost definitely my wheelchair power-sliding outdoors Klaustur bar.”

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