When Gianmarco Negri was elected mayor of Tromello last month, it marked a milestone for Italy. The 40-year-old lawyer is the country’s first transgender mayor and an activist for transgender rights.
To mark 2019’s Pride Month, here are 8 politicians who have broken down barriers to change the face of politics.
1. Gianmarco Negri, Italy
Gianmarco Negri was elected on 29 May as Italy's first ever transgender mayor - for Tromello, a small town south of Milan. He defeated the right-wing League candidate, using the campaign slogan “CambiaMenti per Tromello” which can be translated as both “Changes for Tromello” and “Changing Minds for Tromello”. He said of his win: “The big applause goes to my co-citizens, who have demonstrated that the important thing is to be able to speak without fear and not hiding or being ashamed of oneself.”
2. Lori Lightfoot, US
The first openly gay black woman to hold the Windy City’s highest office, Lori Lightfoot was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Chicago in May. A lawyer and former president of the Chicago Police Board, Lori is married with an 11-year-old daughter. She told Marie Claire: “For people in the various constituencies that I represent, my gender, my color, my sexual orientation need not be a barrier to obtaining leadership roles at the highest levels.”
3. Leo Varadkar, Ireland
Leo Varadkar is many firsts for Ireland. Currently the first openly gay leader of the country, he is also from a minority background, with an Indian father, and the youngest to hold the role, at 38. Coming out in January 2015 during the gay marriage referendum, Vardkar said his sexuality and his ethnic background did not define him. In June 2018, the Taoiseach, or prime minister of the Republic of Ireland, tabled a motion apologising to those who had been criminally convicted of consensual same-sex acts. Homosexuality was only decriminalized in Ireland in 1993.
4. Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg
A friend of Varadkar, Bettel has served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Luxembourg since 2013 and was re-elected for a second term last year. During his time as leader, he has used his international platform to shine a light on LGBTQI issues around the world, including using his official state visit in Mexico to praise pro-LGBTQI rights efforts.
5. Ana Brnabić, Serbia
Brnabić is the first woman and first openly gay person to be elected prime minister of Serbia - and also made history as the first LGBTQI world leader whose partner gave birth while in office. After being elected in 2017, she said: “Serbia is changing and changing fast, and if you will, I am part of that change, but I do not want to be branded ‘Serbia’s gay PM’.”
6. Waheed Alli, UK
Lord Waheed Alli is a media entrepreneur and one of a handful of openly gay Muslim politicians. He made history in April 1999 by becoming the first member of the House of Lords to not only admit he was gay, but to speak openly about it during a debate in the House. He has spent much of his career advocating for LGBTQI rights, and battled waves of criticism as a result.
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7. Geraldine Roman, Philippines
Roman is the first openly transgender woman to be elected to the Congress of the Philippines. Representing the district of Bataan, she has dedicated much of her career to promoting a national LGBTQI bill that would outlaw discrimination against the community - the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Discrimination Act.
8. Ruth Davidson, Scotland
The current leader of the Scottish Conservative Party since 2011, Davidson has long advocated for equality and LGBTQI rights in the United Kingdom. She is also the first UK party leader to have a baby while in office with her partner.