Reykjavík resident Úlfar Viktor Björnsson was attacked in an unprovoked assault this past Saturday after a stranger asked him about his sexual orientation. Now, a self-shot image of Björnsson reflecting on the attack is going viral, prompting nationwide discussions about homophobia in Iceland.
Björnsson says that he was approached by a stranger who punched him in the face and fled after being asked if he was gay. He was not severely injured after the attack and did not seek medical attention: "I didn’t think I needed it. There was a bit of blood and I felt light-headed after the blow, but there are no visible injuries to my face," he said to Gay Iceland.
Björnsson recounted the experience on social media, prompting a sudden outpouring of support.
“I’ve gotten such unbelievably positive response to my Facebook status and lots of people have shown me their support. I’m a bit overwhelmed by how quickly the word has spread so it has been a little difficult to take it all in, but on the whole I’m feeling good," he said.
This is the first time Björnsson has been the victim of a physical attack because of his sexuality, but he says that degrading comments are fairly regular in his life: "It’s not uncommon to experience verbal abuse and harassment for being gay. I have been subjected to all kinds of nasty comments and challenges. It’s mostly been in the form of unpleasant and degrading comments, but I have never before been physically assaulted.”
Reflecting on the pervasive homophobia of Iceland, Björnsson noted the covert ways that people's disapproval for queerness is expressed: "It is often subtle and not overtly visible. That’s why so many people seem to believe that such things don’t occur in Iceland in the year 2018," he said. "We are supposed to be more advanced in these matters than for it to happen that people are struck down for being who they are. We have come a very long way but equality is still not a fact, and I’m sorry to say that we still have a long way to go to achieve that. People are still being assaulted and we are still acting as bystanders that let prejudice blossom in silence.”
Björnsson isn't sure if he will press charges against his attacker, saying he has no desire to hurt the assailant in return.
The original social media post has received around 6,000 "likes" and has been shared over two thousand times.