Main | Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lesbian PM Takes Reins In Iceland

The world's first openly gay leader takes power in Iceland today.
Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, is to become interim leader until new elections are held in May following the fall of the administration of Geir Haarde amid huge public protests about the country's economic crisis. The country's social affairs minister, Ms Sigurdardottir has been installed as head of an interim centre-left coalition featuring her Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green movement.

"Now we need a strong government that works with the people," she told reporters, adding that her new administration was likely to be sworn in on Saturday. Doubts remain, however, as to whether Ms Sigurdardottir can retain power after May's elections as her Alliance party trails the Left-Green movement in the polls. However, her appointment marks a historic milestone for the gay and lesbian community worldwide. She lives with a journalist, Jonina Leosdottir, with whom she was joined in a 2002 civil partnership, and has two sons from a previous marriage.
Sigurdardottir is a former flight attendant.

RELATED: Since I first mentioned this story, I've gotten a number of emails disputing the claim that Sigurdardottir is the world's first gay leader. Some have mentioned U.S. president James Buchanan and others have cited various kings and popes. The key word here, of course, is "openly". And while centuries ago certain kings and popes may have made no secret of their same-sex desires, the concept of gayness is certainly a relatively modern invention.

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