Luxembourg PM stuns EU-Arab summit into 'icy silence' after LGBT comments

Luxembourg PM stuns EU-Arab summit into 'icy silence' after LGBT comments
Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Rachael Kennedy
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An "icy silence" was reported among some of the audience at the EU-Arab League summit after Luxembourg's prime minister reminded fellow leaders that his sexual orientation could see him prosecuted in some of their countries.


As state leaders addressed the EU-Arab League summit in Egypt earlier this week, it was comments made by the Luxembourg prime minister about his sexuality that drew attention.

Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's first openly-gay prime minister, reminded the summit that his same-sex marriage would class him a criminal in some of the countries that his audience members were representing.

He highlighted that such a crime in these countries could be punishable by death.

Recounting the moment on Twitter, German journalist Stefan Leifert said the prime minister's comments were met with an "icy silence" from some members of the audience, while others revelled in a "quiet joy."

Bettel himself tweeted in response to Leifert, adding: "to say nothing was not an option for me."

The Luxembourg leader, who married his architect husband Gauthier Destenay shortly after the EU nation legalised same-sex marriage in 2015, told reporters on Sunday that he planned to discuss human rights at the summit.

"If I as a gay person would not talk about that, I would have a problem," he was quoted as saying.

Online reaction

While his comments may have been met with silence at the summit, over on social media there was a flood of support.

"Some countries pay lip service to LGBT rights, others have the balls to go for the jugular and stand up to be counted," one Luxembourg-based Twitter user wrote.

Another user, situated in the UK, said: "This is what a leader with integrity and values looks like."

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