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Luxembourg prime minister becomes first EU leader in same-sex marriage

The leader of Luxembourg has wed his partner, making him the first European Union leader to enter into a same-sex marriage. It comes just months after the country's parliament legalized the unions.

The ceremony for Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Belgian architect Gauthier Destenay, took place at Luxembourg's town hall on late Friday afternoon.

Celebrations were to be held throughout the weekend for around 500 guests, including Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Bettel is the first European Union leader to wed a same-sex partner, following in the footsteps of Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who married her partner in 2010.

EU Gipfel 19.12.2013 Merkel und Hollande

Bettel (center) has been prime minister of Luxembourg since 2013

He and Destenay have been in a civil union since 2010, and revealed in August they were engaged.

Speaking the night before the nuptials, Bettel told a Belgian broadcaster his decision to be open about his sexuality affected him both personally and professionally.

"I could have hidden it or repressed it and been unhappy my whole life," he said.

"But I told myself that if you want to be a politician be honest in politics, you have to be honest with yourself and to accept that you are who you are."

Luxembourg's parliament approved same-sex marriage in June 2014, and weddings have been taking place since the start of the year.

The 42-year-old leader of the Democratic Party has led the tiny duchy since 2013, when he

took over from the now-head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker,

who had held the top spot for almost two decades.

The marriage is a symbol of wider change in the small, wealthy nation, with traditionally Roman Catholic roots.

Paul Henri Meyer from Juncker's Christian Social People's party said Luxembourg wanted to lead the way for the rest of Europe on same sex policies.

"People of the same sex can now also apply for adoption in Luxembourg," he said.

With only 520,000 citizens, and flanked by Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg sits at the heart of European politics, and has become an important financial center.

The newlyweds exchanged vows before Luxembourg's mayor, Lydie Polfer, and then hosted a cocktail party at the Cercle Cite municipal building.

The honeymoon will have to wait though, with Prime Minister Bettel due to take over presidency of the EU on July 1.

He is also in the middle of a campaign to win a June 7 referendum on several reforms, including placing a limit on the number of years a premier can stay in office.

an/kms (AP, AFP)

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