Iceland to get world’s first lesbian prime minister
Jess McCabe // 28 January 2009
Johanna Sigurðardottir looks set to become the first ever LGBT head of government, after Iceland’s coalition government collapsed. She’s currently minister for social affairs.
The Huffington Post has an interesting piece about how utterly unbothered the people of Iceland are about this fact, by Icelandic journalist Iris Erlingsdottir. She reports:
Sigurðardottir is the mother of two grown sons and is married to Icelandic writer and playwright Jonina Leosdottir. She is often described by many of her countrymen as the only politician who really cares about the “little guy.” She has devoted her career to fighting for the welfare and equality of minority groups – women, the elderly, the poor, disabled, and immigrants. She holds no fancy foreign diplomas – she has a Commercial degree from the Commercial College of Iceland – nor extensive family or wealth connections like many Icelandic politicians but has diligently worked her way up the political ladder through hard work and determination. Her professional career includes working in the 60s and 70s as a flight attendant for Icelandair (the old Loftleidir Airlines) and an office worker in Reykjavik.
Germans agonized over whether they were ready for its first gay leader in 2006 after that country’s leading homosexual politician, Klaus Wowereit, 55, who proudly hugged his long-standing boyfriend in front of television cameras, won a second term as mayor of Berlin. The French grappled with the issue in 2001 when Bertrand Delanoë, 59, one of the country’s first openly gay politicians became mayor of Paris. Last year, the popular Delanoë declared his candidacy for leadership of France’s Socialist party and has been said to be considering running for president in 2012.
“No one has ever talked about Johanna (Icelanders always use first names) as a gay person,” an Icelandic friend and a prominent journalist told me this morning. “She’s not hiding it either, the name of her spouse is on her Parliament and Ministry web pages, it’s just that nobody cares about it, any more than people cared in 1980, when Vigdis Finnbogadottir ran for president, that she was a woman and a single mother to boot.
“Johanna is very smart and not afraid to tackle difficult issues, and I think she can unite us,” my friend added. “Reasonable, sane people are not going to care about people’s gender or color. They just want the best person for the job.”