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