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All Hail Iceland and Belgium

All Hail Iceland and Belgium

And while we're on the subject of gay rights… I spent the past week in Iceland, where the Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, is the world's first openly lesbian head of government. Since then, I've learned that Belgium is run by openly gay Prime Minister Elio de Rupo, making it the first country in the world to have an openly gay person as long term national leader (Johanna Sigurdardottir serves under a president).

As Elio di Rupo said when he first came out, "I'm gay. So what?". But at the same time, it's a significant first which I can't see being replicated in the UK or US any time soon – and having previously not been aware of either, it felt like trivia worth sharing. Read more on their Wikipedia pages here and here.


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Both Sigurðardóttir and Di Rupo are prime ministers of their respective countries, i.e. heads of government though not heads of state: the former serves under a president and the latter — under a king. Nonetheless, since both Iceland and Belgium are parliamentary democracies where the head of state (president or king) has only ceremonial functions, Sigurðardóttir and Di Rupo both hold the de facto highest and most powerful office in their lands. Di Rupo is also the son of impoverished immigrants, raised by a single mother; he is a socialist and a self-professed atheist — and he wears bow ties. Try to match that in the US! ;-)

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