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Luxembourg PM first gay EU leader to marry


Xavier Bettel

Xavier Bettel

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel is to wed his gay partner on Friday, becoming the first European Union leader to enter into a same-sex marriage, a symbol of growing social change across the continent.

Bettel, 42, a centre-right politician who became premier in 2013, will marry Gauthier Destenay, a Belgian architect, just months after the conservative Roman Catholic duchy legalised gay weddings.

The low-key ceremony at the town hall in Luxembourg is being deliberately kept out off the media spotlight and will be followed by weekend-long private celebrations for around 500 guests, sources said.

Among those invited are Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

As well as being the first leader in the 28-nation EU to wed a gay partner, Bettel is only the second in the world after Iceland’s prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who married her writer partner in 2010.

On the eve of his marriage to Destenay, Bettel said he had not wanted to hide his sexuality.

“I could have hidden it or repressed it and been unhappy my whole life. I could have had relations with someone of the other sex while having homosexual relations in secret,” he told Belgium’s RTBF public television.

“But I told myself that if you want to be a politician be honest in politics, you have to be honest with yourself and to accept that you are who you are.”

Same-sex marriage was approved by Luxembourg’s parliament in June 2014 and the first weddings took place on January 1, 2015.

In August, Bettel said he would marry Destenay with whom he has been in a civil union since 2010. “He asked me and I said ‘yes,'” he told the Los Angeles Times.

– ‘Warm and sympathetic’ –

Stephane Bern, a broadcaster who is a friend of Bettel, told the Luxemburger Wort daily: “Everyone finds this to be a very warm and sympathetic symbol.”

“Xavier Bettel wants to stay discreet, there is nothing ostentatious about this ceremony, but the symbolism is very strong — it shows he is a reformist prime minister.”

Indeed Bettel symbolises political as well as social change in Luxembourg, a small very wealthy country nestled between Belgium, Germany and France that was one of the founding members of what became the EU.

He replaced the now-European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker as prime minister in December 2013, ending the grizzled veteran’s 19 years of conservative leadership with a promise to modernise the country.

The newlyweds will briefly pose for the media after exchanging their vows in front of Lydie Polfer, Bettel’s successor as mayor of Luxembourg.

They will then host cocktails at the Cercle Cite municipal building, which housed the original court of justice of the European Coal and Steel Community, the EU’s ancestor.

But they have postponed their honeymoon because of Bettel’s busy political schedule which includes Luxembourg taking over the rotating presidency of the EU on July 1.

Bettel is also campaigning to win a June 7 referendum on a series of reforms, including limiting the premier’s term to 10 years and cutting the voting age to 16 years.

Paul Henri Meyer, a lawmaker from Juncker’s Christian Social People’s party (CSV) said the tiny duchy was becoming a standard bearer for social change across the EU despite its strong Roman Catholic leanings.

“People of the same sex can now also apply for adoption in Luxembourg,” he said.

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  • how did d world get to this filthy point?

    • Marco

      Coz’ a woman bit into an apple 6000 years ago.

  • Nathaniel Iroegbu

    What the hell is this world turning into…what happened to the women in his country….this is disgusting…post a free classified advert

    • Maurice Salentiny

      What the hell is this world turning into

      – Into a free and nice world, hopefully

      what happened to the women in his country

      – nothing. Why ?

      this is disgusting

      – probably the most disgusting part is your unfriendly attitude.
      Why so much hate ?
      Luxembourg is a well working country with almost no social problems and / or criminality.
      Maybe your country should try a little bit more freedom an friendliness, too?

      (and, no, I’m not homosexual, it’s just completely unimportant to me how other people live their sex lives)

  • Bello Barriga

    Humm! Let see, the other day I overheard a conversation. Briefly, it centered on the story of Soddom and gormarah. The conclusion – it is true. Question:- Is Soddom in Africa and Gormarah in the Asian and Western world? I will take the answers as they come.

    • Marco

      Homosexuality is a form of sexuality that has existed since there are people. Regardless of geography and culture. It is part of nature. There are also homosexual animals.
      In the West it used to be as much taboo as it is still today in Africa.
      Are there married men in Nigeria who sometimes have sex with male friends ? Are there Gay prostitutes ?
      That Luxembourg Prime Minister chose to marry his boyfriend rather than a woman and lie to her, meeting his boyfriend in secret, or having no boyfriend but paying gay prostitutes. Or both ! Which is acceptable in a traditional society because it is not public.
      Here is the difference: now public in the West but hidden in Africa.

      • Bello Barriga

        Thanks. One of the responses referred me to the Christian Holy Book, the Bible – Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 All there is to say is also written in the same book – Ecclesiastes 1:12-14. The most interesting part to me is the verse – “What a heavy burden God has laid on men.” Have a splendid day.

  • Alan Best

    I wish them every happiness imaginable. I wish I had been able to do this.