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Iceland's Lesbian Prime Minister to Retire

Iceland's Lesbian Prime Minister to Retire


Johanna Sigurdardottir, the first openly gay or lesbian head of a national government, announced she will quit politics next year.

Iceland prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, the first out lesbian to head a national government, will retire from politics when the parliamentary term ends in April.

"There is a time for everything, also for my time in politics which has been long and eventful," she said in a statement on the website for her party, the Social Democrats. "Now I believe it is time for others to take the baton that was passed to me following the crash. I have therefore decided to leave political life at the end of this term."

"The crash" is a reference to the economic crisis of 2008, in which three of Iceland's banks failed and its currency dropped greatly in value. The nation received a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Sigurdardottir became prime minister in 2009, making her the first woman to hold that position in Iceland and the first openly gay or lesbian head of a national government, on anything other than an interim basis, anywhere in the world. A former flight attendant and trade union official, she was elected to Parliament in 1978 and later served as Iceland's minister for social affairs. She turns 70 next week.

As Sigurdardottir retires, Iceland's elected officials are debating whether the nation should join the European Union and adopt the euro as its currency, Reuters reports. It's unclear who will succeed her as leader of the Social Democrats.

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