Teen beats government in name battle

Beat name ruling ... Blaer Bjarkardottir and her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir
Beat name ruling ... Blaer Bjarkardottir and her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir 

A 15-year-old Icelandic girl has been granted the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother, despite the opposition of authorities and Iceland's strict naming laws.

Reykjavik District Court ruled on Thursday that the name Blaer  meaning 'light breeze'  can be used.

The decision overturns an earlier rejection by Icelandic authorities who declared it wasn't a proper feminine name. Until now, Blaer Bjarkardottir had been identified simply as "Girl" in communications with officials.

"I'm very happy," she said after the ruling. "I'm glad this is over. Now I expect I'll have to get new identity papers. Finally I'll have the name Blaer in my passport."

Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. Names are supposed to fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules - for example, choices like Carolina and Christa aren't allowed because the letter "c" isn't part of Iceland's alphabet.

The court ruling means that other girls will be also allowed to use the name in Iceland.

Blaer's mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, has long fought for the right for the name to be recognised. In an interview earlier this year, she said she hadn't known the name wasn't on the list of accepted female names when she gave it to her daughter.

The name was originally rejected because the panel viewed it as a masculine name that was inappropriate for a girl. But the latest court ruling found that, based on testimony and other evidence, the name could be used by both males and females, and that Blaer had a right to her own name under Iceland's constitution and Europe's human rights conventions. It rejected the government's argument that her request should be denied to protect the Icelandic language.

Blaer had told the court she was very happy with her name and only had problems with it when she was dealing with state authorities who rejected it.

The court did not grant her any damages. The government has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.


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