Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has married his gay partner, becoming the first leader in the European Union to enter into a same-sex union in a symbol of growing social change across the continent.
Bettel, 42, a centre-right politician, who became premier in 2013, tied the knot on Friday with Gauthier Destenay, a Belgian architect, just months after the Roman Catholic duchy legalised gay weddings.
The prime minister and his partner held hands as they arrived for the low key ceremony at the Luxembourg town hall, where around 100 well-wishers applauded them.
“Thank you to all Luxembourgers,” Bettel said after the ceremony, as the crowd threw rice and confetti over the couple.
As well as being the first leader in the 28-nation EU to wed a gay partner, Bettel is only the second in the world after Iceland’s Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, who married her writer partner in 2010.
Iceland is not part of the EU.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who was among the guests at Bettel’s wedding, said he had come for a “mate’s wedding”, adding that it was a “big moment” for his counterpart from the neighbouring country.
“Luxembourg is giving the image of a country that is advanced on social issues. That is a message sent at a time when homophobia is on the rise in Europe,” said another friend of the couple, journalist Stephane Bern.
Luxembourg’s parliament approved same-sex marriage in June 2014 and the first weddings took place on January 1, 2015, making it the latest in a growing number of European countries to embrace the trend.
Bettel’s wedding comes the week before staunchly Catholic Ireland holds a referendum on whether to allow same-sex marriage.