Europe elected its third openly gay Mayor of a capital city on October 9. Openly gay deputy mayor Bettel Xavier, 38, beat the incumbent, Paul Helminger, 71, mayor since 1999, in an electoral surprise in Luxembourg.
Xavier, who appears with his partner during ceremonies, officially occupies the office of Mayor of the city of Luxembourg in two months.
Speaking with T TU magazine, Bettel said:
“People ask me how it feels to be the third openly gay mayor of a European capital, after Berlin and Paris. But people do not judge us on the fact that whether or not homosexual. Voters chose me for my balance, my personality. And not my sexuality.”
“People know my commitments and know they can contact me. I think this election is a recognition of the work.”
The Deputy Mayor in charge of social issues since 2005, first elected when he was 22, he is a member of the centrist Democratic Party. Bettel has pushed for abortion law reform, currently heavily restricted, as are the grounds for divorce.
“I am a lawyer by profession. I fight against all inequalities. I want a society where everyone feels good, ” he says.
“My mother told me that when I was small, I was already like that!”
The aim is now to turn Luxembourg into “an open city.” He calls his program “Multiplicity.”
Despite his efforts, Bettel has failed to get gay marriage passed. Luxembourg has a version of civil partnerships similar to the French PACS.
“Now that I am mayor, my companion asked me when I’m going to get the marriage through,” Bettel said laughing.
He has faced conservatism in the city parliament.
“I’ve been called a [woman's name], one day in parliament. It hurt me. [But] I said nothing.”
In the US, openly lesbian and gay Mayors include Annise Parker, Mayor Of Houston, Jim Gray, Mayor of Lexington and Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland. San Diego could join them with two openly gay Republicans running for Mayor there. San Francisco also has a gay Mayoral candidate in Bevan Dufty.
Photo credit: Bettel Xavier Facebook page