Belgium's new transgender deputy PM is attacked online as far-right party accuses her of wanting to 'destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilisation'

 The first transgender politician to reach high office in Belgium has been attacked online by a far-right politician just days after she was appointed.

Vice Premier Petra De Sutter, 57, of the Green Party was sworn in as part of a new government on Saturday, posting on social media that she was 'proud that in [Belgium] and in most of [the EU] your gender identity does not define you as a person and is a non-issue'. 

But just days after De Sutter's historic appointment she was the subject of an online attack from a politician in the parliament of her native Flanders region.

Bart Claes, of the far-right, nationalist Flemish Interest party, accused the deputy prime minister, who was born male but transitioned at age 40, of wanting 'to destroy and replace all the cornerstones of our Western civilisation'.

Petra De Sutter, 57, is now Europe's highest-ranking trans politician after being sworn in as Belgium's deputy prime minister on Saturday. The appointment was celebrated by LGBTQ rights groups but De Sutter has since been attacked online by a far-right politician

Petra De Sutter, 57, is now Europe's highest-ranking trans politician after being sworn in as Belgium's deputy prime minister on Saturday. The appointment was celebrated by LGBTQ rights groups but De Sutter has since been attacked online by a far-right politician

De Sutter said she was 'proud that in [Belgium] and in most of [the EU] your gender identity does not define you as a person and is a non-issue' and that she hoped her appointment would ignite discussion in countries where this is not yet the case

 De Sutter said she was 'proud that in [Belgium] and in most of [the EU] your gender identity does not define you as a person and is a non-issue' and that she hoped her appointment would ignite discussion in countries where this is not yet the case

Claes, whose party is a rebrand of the secessionist, anti-immigration Flemish Block party which was disbanded in 2004 after its policies were deemed discriminatory, went on to say that De Sutter was 'the personification of cultural Marxism.'

Fellow politicians were quick to come to De Sutter's defence however, with her party colleague Bjorn Rzoska, criticising Claes' bizarre remarks as attempt to 'dehumanise' De Sutter.

Liesbeth Homans, speaker of the Flemish parliament of which Claes is a member, called Claes' comments 'extremely reprehensible'.

The criticism had little effect on Claes, however, who said he 'didn't see the problem' with calling 'a transgender a transgender.' 

Bart Claes (left), a far-right politician in De Sutter's (centre) native Flanders region, accused her of wanting to 'destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilisation' and being 'the personification of cultural Marxism'

Bart Claes (left), a far-right politician in De Sutter's (centre) native Flanders region, accused her of wanting to 'destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilisation' and being 'the personification of cultural Marxism'

Supporters of the far-right, nationalist Flemish Interest party gather for a drive-in protest in Brussels, Belgium. The party is a rebrand of the secessionist, anti-immigration Flemish Block which was disbanded in 2004 after state funding and the right to appear on television were withdrawn over the part's discriminatory policies

Supporters of the far-right, nationalist Flemish Interest party gather for a drive-in protest in Brussels, Belgium. The party is a rebrand of the secessionist, anti-immigration Flemish Block which was disbanded in 2004 after state funding and the right to appear on television were withdrawn over the part's discriminatory policies

De Sutter had been a professor specialising in gynaecology and fertility before becoming a Member of the European Parliament last year. 

She also served as minister for public service and public enterprises and as a senator for the Green party in Belgium's upper house of parliament for five years from 2014. 

She is now one of seven deputy prime ministers in Belgium's coalition government, which ended a 16-month deadlock after an inconclusive election.  

'Incredibly grateful for the confidence I have received from my party!' De Sutter wrote on Twitter. 

'Now I can do whatever it takes to relaunch our country and work on a new future for all Belgians together with that government!'  

De Sutter (above in white top) is one of seven seven deputy prime ministers in Belgium's coalition government, which ended a 16-month deadlock after an inconclusive election

De Sutter (above in white top) is one of seven seven deputy prime ministers in Belgium's coalition government, which ended a 16-month deadlock after an inconclusive election

In an interview on her own website, De Sutter described growing up as a shy child and feeling isolated because she knew she was different but didn't have the vocabulary to define her feelings.

She said this led to bullying and isolation but that spending time alone with books helped her succeed academically and set her on the path towards her career in medicine. 

Working in the field of reproduction was political in itself, De Sutter said, so her move into politics felt natural.

In the interview, De Sutter described a time when her personal life was brought into a political debate she was involved in over a surrogacy report she was compiling and said that such situations in which people stereotype her and conflate her life with political issues frustrate her.

'Am I angry? I am very angry. But the art is to channel anger into action, otherwise you just become an angry, sad or even depressed person,' she said.

'You don’t have to be the subject of your anger. Being angry in politics means fighting for the good cause.'

De Sutter added that she has been fortunate compared to many other members of the transgender community in that she is accepted in her work life and has a loving partner.

'Very few people in my situation had this luck. This is why I need to do something, for those who lacked this luck.'


With LGBTQ rights becoming more accepted worldwide, gay and transgender politicians have gained greater prominence in some countries in recent years, with Pauline Ngarmpring becoming Thailand's first trans candidate for prime minister last year.

In the United States, more than 880 openly LGBTQ candidates have appeared or will appear on ballots across the country this year, nearly double that of 2018, according to the LGBTQ Victory Institute, which supports such candidates.  

LGBTQ rights groups welcomed De Sutter's appointment as an important step forward for trans politicians.

'We are delighted that a member of the trans community has been appointed to this senior political post,' Matt Beard, executive director of international advocacy group All Out, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

'Petra's appointment is a calling and an inspiration to governments across the world to increase trans representation in senior positions.'

Belgium's new transgender deputy PM is attacked online as far-right party accuses her of wanting to 'destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilisation' Belgium's new transgender deputy PM is attacked online as far-right party accuses her of wanting to 'destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilisation' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:08 Rating: 5

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