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Girl wins right to use her own name

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – 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 law on names.

Reykjavik District Court ruled Thursday that the name “Blaer” can be used. It means “light breeze.”

The decision overturns an earlier rejection by Icelandic authorities, who declared it was not 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 – choices such as Carolina and Christa are not allowed because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s alphabet.

Blaer’s mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, had fought for the right for the name to be recognized. The court ruling means that other girls will be also allowed to use the name in Iceland.

In an interview earlier this year, Eidsdottir said she did not know the name “Blaer” was not on the list of accepted female names when she gave it to her daughter. The name was rejected because the panel viewed it as a masculine name that was inappropriate for a girl.

The court 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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