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Luxembourg’s gay prime minister makes impassioned plea against hate speech in historic UN address

Patrick Kelleher September 25, 2019
Gay prime minister Xavier Bettel

Xavier Bettel (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty)

Luxembourg’s gay prime minister Xavier Bettel has said everyone has a duty to challenge hate speech in an impassioned plea to the United Nations.

The speech – which is reportedly the first speech at the United Nations by an openly gay leader on LGBT+ rights – called on other leaders to prevent freedom of expression from causing harm, Reuters reports.

“We are all part and we all have a responsibility,” Bettel said.

“This starts from… your politicians but it goes also to a family evening, to dinner with friends, with family. If they have hate speech you can never accept it.”

Gay prime minister Xavier Bettel: ‘Homophobia is a choice and we have to fight against it.’

Elsewhere in his speech, Bettel said: “Being gay is not a choice but not accepting it is a choice. Homophobia is a choice and we have to fight against it.”

The speech comes just a week after the gay prime minister was left standing alone at a press conference when UK prime minister Boris Johnson failed to make an appearance.

Johnson was in Luxembourg as a part of the UK’s efforts to negotiate a new Brexit deal – however, he was met with protesters and subsequently cancelled his appearance at a news conference as a result.

This starts from… your politicians but it goes also to a family evening, to dinner with friends, with family. If they have hate speech you can never accept it.

The result was the Luxembourg leader standing alone next to an empty podium in front of bemused reporters.

Bettel then said that the chaos of Brexit negotiations “would not happen in Luxembourg”.

He continued: “Don’t put the blame on us because they don’t know how to get out of this situation. It is not my choice.”

Bettel has previously spoken out in favour of LGBT+ rights.

Bettel is one of just three openly gay world leaders and has been prime minister of Luxembourg since 2013.

In 2015, he married architect Gauthier Destenay in a private ceremony, becoming the first European Union head of government to marry a same-sex partner.

This is not the first time Bettel has spoken out in favour of LGBT+ rights. Earlier this year, he reportedly stunned Arab leaders into silence when he pointed out that he could be legally killed in some of their nations.

The speech was met with “icy silence by some, quiet joy by others”, according to German journalist Stefan Leifert.

More: gay prime minister, hate speech, LGBT, Xavier Bettel

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