On Thursday November 3, 2011 Siðmennt conferred its annual awards at a reception held at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura. The recipient of this year’s Humanist award was Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson, a living icon and one of Iceland’s most popular and beloved singers. Páll Óskar has for many years promoted human rights for GLBT individuals and paved the way for others by being a superb role model with his positive, creative, and sincere manner.
For the fourth time, Siðmennt also presented its Education and Science Award for important contributions to educating the public in Iceland. The recipient of the Education and Science Award for 2011 was the Amateur Astronomical Society and its related Astronomy Website for their major contributions to educating the Icelandic public about science. They bought and distributed 300 telescopes to 220 primary and secondary schools in Iceland along with a documentary film called “Eyes on the Skies”. Furthermore they visited 150 of those schools and taught the teachers how to use these instruments. Two years ago they held a 5 week long outdoor exhibition for the public with 26 giant photos of the universe.
The awards reception included a musical performance by a Siðmennt member Mamiko Dís Ragnarsdóttir and for the first time a cabinet minister, Ögmundur Jónasson (Minister of Justice and Human Rights) made a speech on this occasion. He praised the work of Siðmennt and mentioned a bill in Parliament put forth by his ministry which would give Siðmennt equal legal status with religious organizations.