Icelandic social affairs minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, was tapped to be her country’s first female prime minister, and the world’s first openly gay one, after the island nation’s conservative government fell alongside Iceland’s collapsing banks and currency and soaring unemployment and inflation. Sigurdardottir will serve as interim leader until May elections. (AP in Yahoo! News)
What the commentators said
It’s hard to believe that anything good could come from the global credit crisis, said Britain’s The Independent in an editorial, but Sigurdardottir’s appointment is “one incontrovertibly cheering” result. Of course Iceland is, “to put no fine a point on it, bankrupt,” but perhaps she can succeed where her male predecessor failed—all of Iceland’s major banks are now headed by women, too.
The fact that she’s gay is “bigger news” than that she’s a woman, said Andy Seccombe in the New York Press. But while a gay woman rising to “the Icey Office,” and a black man being sworn in to the Oval Office, are “important milestones,” both leaders face dire fiscal situations, and how they tackle them “is ultimately the real issue.”
Right, so why is everyone outside of Iceland focusing on her sexual orientation? said Icelandic journalist Iris Erlingsdottir in The Huffington Post. Sigurdardottir has been in parliament since 1978 and, with a 73 percent approval rating, is Iceland’s most popular politician—and not because of or in spite of her sexuality. “Who cares?”
Sure, “Icelanders consider it ‘perverted’ to even care about someone’s sexual orientation,” said Rady Ananda in OpEdNews, but it’s “of great relevance in those societies where sexual minorities are criminalized or marginalized.” That includes the U.S., where laws “ban full civil rights” for gays and lesbians.
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