Belgium’s Prime Minister: World’s 1st Openly Gay Male Prime Minister
Elio di Rupo, a French-speaking Socialist, will soon become Belgium's first openly gay prime minister, reported NASDAQ in a Dec. 5 article.
Di Rupo, 60, is also the first French-speaking Belgium to be elected Prime Minister in 32 years. In addition, di Rupo is the head of the French-speaking Socialist Party of Belgium and mayor of the southern city of Mons.
"My first words are for the citizens" Di Rupo said last week. "I want to thank them for their patience ... together, we need to roll up our sleeves and get this country out of crisis."
Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2003. Same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples. For instance, they are allowed to adopt children, which was legalized in 2006, and can openly serve in the military. The country has a number of discrimination laws based on sexual orientation that protects members of the LGBT community as well.
Europe is no stranger when it comes to openly gay leaders, however. The mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, is openly gay and has been mayor since 2001. Prior to being elected, he infamously coined the phrase "I'm gay, and that's also a good thing."
In 2009, Iceland elected the world's first openly gay head of a nation's government, Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir. In an EDGE article, it was reported that Sigurdardottir, 68, married her longtime partner, Jonina Leosdottir, in 2010. (Gay marriage is legal in the island nation.)
Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who was elected in 2001, announced that he was gay in a 1998 television interview. At the time of his election he made Paris the largest city with an openly gay mayor.
The U.S. has a number of openly gay elected officials, such as the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker. The Associated Press reported that Parker said her election marked a milestone for gay citizens.
"I spoke on election night of that being an historic election, and my election made news all around the world," she said. "Now, Houstonians weren't very surprised they elected a gay woman. We have a tradition of electing mayors not for who they are but for what they believe we can do as a city."
Christine Quinn is currently the Speaker of the New York City Council and the first openly gay speaker. A Nov. 26 EDGE article reported that Quinn is expected to run for mayor in 2013.
As for Di Rupo, his sexuality was a non-issue in his appointment by the Belgian king. More controversial was his bad Dutch. In a nation deeply divided by language, the northern part, Flanders, resents anyone from Wallonia, the French-speaking southern part, not speaking their (very different) language.
The tiny nation, which houses the headquarters of the European Union, has been threatened of late with partition because of the cultural differences between the two lingual regions.