Faroe Islands to hold election after minister sacked for homophobia

The prime minister of the Faroe Islands called for early elections Wednesday after sacking a minister over homophobic comments caused him to lose his majority in the local parliament.

Faroe Islands to hold election after minister sacked for homophobia
People enter a polling station in the Faroe Islands to vote in the Danish parliamentary election on October 31st. The nation will now hold its own election for parliament. Photo: Álvur Haraldsen/Ritzau Scanpix

“After meticulous examination and consulting party heads, I have reached the decision it is time to call for parliamentary elections” on December 8th, Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen said.

The premier on Tuesday sacked his foreign minister Jenis av Rana over homophobic remarks, causing the Christian party he heads to withdraw from the ruling coalition in the local parliament.

The islands in the North Atlantic, an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark, have a local parliament, as well as two seats in the 179-seat Danish parliament.

During the run-up to the Danish parliamentary polls last week, av Rana sparked controversy by saying that he could not back the head of Denmark’s Conservatives Søren Pape Poulsen if he became prime minister because he was gay.

Negotiations to form the new Danish government are ongoing, but Poulsen is now out of the running to become PM after his party performed poorly in the election.

A few days ago, av Rana then again stirred debate by opposing double-barrelled surnames for the children of lesbian couples.

Home to some 54,000 inhabitants, the Faroe Islands have been largely autonomous from Denmark since 1948.

They are still highly dependent on fishing and have an autonomous commercial policy, but are not part of the European Union.

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Faroe Islands renew fishing quota deal with Russia

Denmark's autonomous Faroe Islands have renewed a fishing quota deal with Russia for one year despite Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, a local minister said on Saturday.

Faroe Islands renew fishing quota deal with Russia

“The Faroe Islands are totally right to extend their existing fishing agreement with Russia,” the North Atlantic archipelago’s minister of fisheries Arni Skaale told the Jyllands-Posten daily.

He added however that the islands, which are not part of the European Union, condemned “all form of war – also the war in Ukraine” after Russian forces invaded in February.

The agreement has been in place since 1977 and is renewable each year.

It lays out catch quotas for cod, haddock, whiting and herring in the Barents Sea north of Russia for Faroese fishermen, and in waters off the coast of the Faroe Islands for Russian fishing boats.

Dependent on fishing

The autonomous territory is highly dependent on fishing for its income, and the fisheries ministry says the deal with Russia covers 5 percent of its GDP.

Russia has become a key commercial partner of the Faroe Islands since they and neighbouring Iceland fell out with the European Union – including Denmark – between 2010 and 2014 over mackerel and herring quotas.

An EU embargo on Faroese fish harmed the economy of the territory, which then turned to other markets.

“Today we only have free trade agreements with six countries – and not with the European Union,” said Skaale.

“If we cut ourselves off from one of these markets, it could be problematic for the whole of the next generation.”

Alternatives to be considered

Authorities on the archipelago have however said they would think about alternatives to the deal with Russia after local parliamentary polls on December 8.

Last month, neighbouring Norway – a NATO member – and Russia also agreed on catch quotas in the Barents Sea for next year.

Home to some 54,000 inhabitants, the Faroe Islands have been largely autonomous from Denmark since 1948.