Xavier Bettel is set to become Luxembourg’s Prime Minister in the next few weeks. And in the process he’ll become Europe’s second out gay leader.
The other out gay European Prime Minister is Belgium’s Elio Di Rupo (although Iceland’s former leader Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir led the way when she ran the island nation between 2009 and 2013).
He’ll be joined in the Prime Minister’s official residence by Destenay Gauthier, his partner.
Last month Bettel unexpectedly led the centrist Democratic Party to its best-ever election result, earning the right to form a government.
Currently the Mayor of Luxembourg City, the 40-year old been formally designated as “formateur” by Grand Duke Henri, the country’s head of state. This means he’s in charge of forming a coalition government with the Greens and Socialists and if all goes to plan he’ll become Prime Minister within the next few weeks.
Although Luxembourg is a tiny country of just 540,000 people it plays a major role in the European Union, meaning Bettel is likely to become a major figure in Brussels.
He broke off from coalition negotiations to tell BuzzFeed about his life, why voters no longer care about sexuality and what he wants to achieve as Prime Minister.
1. Bettel said that the first thing he did after the election result was to ask his partner whether it was OK for him to become Prime Minister.
My partner is a bit scared. I try to be at home most nights as we’re a team but the obligations [of being Prime Minister] mean I will have to go abroad a lot. I asked him the day after the election whether it was OK to form a government and he supported me. If he had said no I would have to think whether I could accept it or not - I didn’t want to break up a relationship! We’re a team for good times and bad.
2. He also said that a a lot has changed since he first became a politician in the late 1990s.
I once had a [female politician] who said I was more lady than her. But society is changing and what would be considered as not normal is fully normal nowadays. You can live your life as yourself and be considered as you are – not because you look like a politician who is married and with children.
3. Although Bettel has sympathy with politicians who stayed in the closet, he never felt the need to hide his sexuality.
Everyone has to be OK with their own situation. When you have accepted yourself that you are like you are – the first step as a teenager – the next step is to see that no one cares. If you are losing friends because of your sexuality then they are not your friends. I never hid it. It’s a fact, I am like I am and I want to be honest with myself and honest in politics.
4. He also told us that he wants Luxembourg to legalise gay marriage in 2014.
Gay weddings with be done forthly. At the moment in Luxembourg, we have to go through the situation of weddings, religion and divorce laws. But I don’t think it’ll be in the next five years – it’ll be next year.
5. But his main focus will be improving Luxembourg’s economy.
I’m not a gay minister - my sexual orientation is no reason whether I’m elected or not elected. I do politics in favour of all the people, not one lobby group and we also have problems with unemployment, housing and finance.
6. That said, Bettel’s happy that attitudes are changing so fast.
My vice-Prime Minister is gay as well. You have to prove that you do not have to fulfil cliches and be how you think you should be. People don’t care what you do at the end of the day.