Belgium swears in gay prime minister

Elio Di Rupo

Europe now officially has its second openly gay prime minister with the swearing in today of Elio Di Rupo as Belgium’s leader.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is not only Iceland’s first woman prime minister but also Europe’s first openly gay head of state.

News that Di Rupo is gay was overshadowed by the circumstances of his coming to power. Belgium had been without a government for 541 days. That is a record for a modern government and beat the previous record held by Cambodia (182 days).

He is the first French-speaking prime minister in that bilingual (French and Flemish) country in 30 years and the first socialist head of state in that country in almost 40 years.

When Di Rupo was first elected to Parliament, he was asked if he was gay. His answer was, “Yes. So what?” And that’s how most news accounts have been treating news of Europe’s first gay male prime minister — it isn’t being mentioned. Even U.S. press, such as this report from CBS News is ignoring his sexual orientation.

Belgium becomes the largest geographic area and the area with the largest population to have a gay head of state. Iceland only has 317,000 people. Belgium has more than 10 million.

Of LGBT politicians, Mayor Klaus Wowereit of Berlin, whose population is 3.1 million, moves down the list to No. 2 in number of people under his jurisdiction. Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, whose population is 2.1 million, moves down the list to No. 3.

—  David Taffet

10 countries now allow same-sex marriage

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A leading rights group says 10 countries have legalized same-sex marriage in the past decade.

But Human Rights Watch said in a survey released Monday that bias continues against people who want to marry people of the same gender in those 10 countries and many others.

Boris O. Dittrich of the group’s gay rights program says that the growing number of countries legalizing same-sex marriage demonstrates progress in sexual equality around the world.

The first same-sex marriages took place in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. The countries that followed were Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.

—  John Wright

BELGIUM: Archbishop Andre Leonard Hit With Pie Following AIDS Remarks

Days after comments in which he declared that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay, Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard was struck with a pie as he stood at the altar during a service.

Footage of the incident released Saturday showed a young man approaching Archbishop Andre Leonard on Monday and smacking him with a pie. A church official says the archbishop will not press charges against the unknown attacker. The incident came amid growing turmoil within Belgium’s Roman Catholic church, which faces an investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Leonard himself shocked Catholics by sympathizing with priests accused of pedophilia and by saying that homosexuals deserved to get AIDS.

On Tuesday the Archbishop’s spokesman resigned, saying, “Archbishop Léonard has sometimes acted like someone who’s driving against the traffic and thinks everyone else is wrong.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin