Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel (b. 1973) is at present the only openly gay world leader*. He became the first European Union Leader to enter into a same-sex marriage when he wed his civil partner, Gauthier Destanay, in May, 2015. Destanay, who works as an architect, comes from neighboring Belgium, and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel attended their wedding.
A native of Luxembourg, Bettel had become the youngest member of the Luxembourg Parliament at age 26 (1999). When he was sworn in as mayor of Luxembourg City in 2011, Destanay stood by his side. Continuing a meteoric political career, Bettel became Prime Minister of Luxembourg in 2013.
Bettel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Etienne Schneider (b. 1971) is also openly gay and married his partner, Jérôme Domange, earlier this year.
Luxembourg is a Grand Duchy, bordered by France, Germany and Belgium. The constitutional monarch is Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg (b. 1955 – not gay!), who has the power to appoint the prime minister and represent Luxembourg’s interests in foreign affairs. Bettel with Grand Duke Henri (below):
Trivia: Bettel’s mother is the grand niece of Russian composer/pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff.
*Bettel (b. 1973) is the third openly gay world leader. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo left office in October, 2014, and Iceland’s Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir left office in May, 2013. That leaves Bettel as the only gay leader still in office.
In 1997 President Bill Clinton appointed openly gay James C. Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Although Hormel was eminently qualified for the post and quickly won approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was subjected to an ugly confirmation battle during which he was defamed and belittled by homophobic GOP senators such as Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft. His nomination was effectively blocked by Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who refused to schedule a vote. Finally, two years later, in May 1999, to the outrage of some Republicans, Clinton named Hormel ambassador via a “recess appointment.” Hormel thus became the first openly gay ambassador to represent the United States. That was the same year (still closeted) Xavier Bettel became the youngest member of the Luxembourg parliament.
Luxembourg, the second-wealthiest country after Qatar*, was ranked #14 overall by U.S. News when it published a 2016 list of the 25 “best countries” **. Luxembourg ranked No. 1 in Open for Business and No. 10 in Quality of Life. Luxembourg is a major center for large private banking, and its finance sector is the largest contributor to its economy.
*GDP per capita $88,000; Luxembourg was $81,000.
**There were nine categories, such as Heritage, Entrepreneurship, Cultural Influence, etc. The U.S. ranked #4 overall, Great Britain #3, Canada #2 and Germany #1.
Pope Francis Welcomes Bettel and Husband
In March 2017 Pope Francis welcomed the world’s only openly gay leader and his husband to the Vatican. Catholic officials invited Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (center) and his husband Gauthier Destenay (left) to the Holy See, where they were met upon arrival by Georg Gänswein* (above right), the dashing German-born Archbishop who still serves as personal secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Bettel and Destenay joined other European heads of government for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957. The treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC), a major stepping stone to the establishment of the European Union (EU).
Bettel commented, “It was a great pleasure and honour for me and Gauthier to be welcomed by the leader of the Catholic Church.”
*60-year-old Gänswein rightfully earned the nickname “Gorgeous George” (Bel Giorgio). He appeared on the cover of the January 2013 Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine and was the inspiration for fashion designer Donatella Versace’s 2007 “Clergyman Collection.” For recreation the Archbishop plays tennis, flies airplanes and skis (he was once a ski instructor).
So there you have it.
Joe Morgan (Gay Star News)
Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.