Which European countries have LGBTQ+ leaders?

Monday, 25 September 2023 13:49 GMT

The newly elected leader of Syriza leftist party, Stefanos Kasselakis, greets supporters as he arrives to the party headquarters to deliver a statement in Athens, Greece, September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Louisa Gouliamaki

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As Greece's opposition Syriza party elects its first gay leader, where else in Europe have LGBTQ+ politicians served in top roles?

By Joanna Gill

BRUSSELS, Sept 25 (Openly) - Greece's leftist opposition Syriza party has elected gay former Goldman Sachs trader Stefanos Kasselakis as its leader, the first time an openly LGBTQ+ figure has headed one of the country's main political parties.

Married to nurse Tyler Macbeth since 2019, the 35-year-old Kasselakis has said "Greek people are ready to have a prime minister who is capable, incorruptible, unscathed and happens to be gay".

Europe leads the world in the number of openly gay political leaders in office, with four current heads of government in Luxembourg, Ireland, Serbia and Andorra.

In Latvia, President Edgars Rinkevics became the region's first openly gay head of state earlier this year.

Here's what you need to know about Europe's current and former LGBTQ+ leaders:

Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir arrives for the welcome ceremony at the Northern Future Forum in Riga February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins


Former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became the world's first openly gay head of government when she took office in 2009. A gay-rights advocate, her marriage to partner Jónína Leósdóttir was one of the first same-sex weddings when it was legalised in June 2010.

Sigurðardóttir, who served as prime minister until 2013, helped lead the country out of a deep financial crisis that started in 2008.


Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo became an EU nation's first openly gay premier in 2011, underscoring Belgium's progressive record on LGBTQ+ rights. It was ranked second place in ILGA-Europe's annual Rainbow Map and Index based on legal benchmarks for LGBTQ+ equality.

Serving in the post until 2014, Di Rupo was later elected in 2019 to head the government of the Wallonia region, which he declared an "LGBTQ+ freedom zone" last year as part of his ongoing efforts to push for equality.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


Prime Minister Xavier Bettel became the second openly gay head of government in an EU country when he was elected in 2013, following Belgium's Di Rupo.

The former lawyer turned politician has long been open about his sexuality, but plays down its significance.

Bettel and his long-time civil partner were among the first gay men to exercise their right to wed when Luxembourg became the ninth European Union state to extend full rights to same-sex marriages in 2015.

It was the first time that a serving EU leader married someone of the same sex.

In 2018, Bettel became the first openly gay prime minister in the world to be re-elected for a second term, and in October could be headed for a third mandate.


Irish politician Leo Varadkar served as Taoiseach from 2017-2020, making him Ireland's first gay leader. He re-entered office in 2022 in a power-sharing deal within the governing coalition.

His rise to power in 2017 marked another chapter of social change in Ireland, once one of Europe's most socially conservative and staunchly Roman Catholic countries, which only decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 and legalised divorce two years later. 

Varadkar came out as gay in 2015, ahead of Ireland's landmark referendum on same-sex marriage.

Once elected, he advocated for LGBTQ+ rights, including marriage equality in Northern Ireland, the only part of the United Kingdom not to have introduced same-sex marriage legislation by 2017.

Newly-elected Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics speaks during a press conference in Riga, Latvia May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins


When he was sworn in as Latvia's president in July 2023, Edgars Rinkevics became the EU's first openly gay head of state.

Though the role of president in Latvia is largely ceremonial, the office carries powers to veto legislation and call referendums.

In 2014, Rinkevics came out on Twitter with a tweet that quickly went viral stating: "I proudly announce I am gay", becoming the first high-ranking official in the Baltic states to come out publicly, and vowed to fight for equal rights for all partnerships.


Prime Minister Ana Brnabić became the first woman and first openly gay politician to hold the office in 2017.

When her partner gave birth to a boy in 2019, she was the first openly gay prime minister to become a parent while in office, though same-sex marriage is banned and LGBTQ+ families have few rights in Serbia.

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(Reporting by Joanna Gill; Editing by Helen Popper and Hugo Greenhalgh. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit https://www.context.news/)

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