Petra De Sutter named most LGBT+ friendly public face
As a prominent transgender woman, the Groen MP and federal minister of state-owned concerns has long been a figurehead for the LGBT+ community
In October, De Sutter (Groen) became the first transgender person in Europe to reach the position of deputy prime minister. She was also named federal minister of state-owned companies and civil services. When she entered politics in 2014, she was the first transgender person in Belgium to do so.
“I am honoured by this award and title as the representation of LGBT+ people in the media is very important. I understand that this award is a support for a great many people and that LGBT+ role models and public figures are still required to inspire,” she said on receiving the prize.
“Really, it should no longer be an issue and it would be even better if this award did not exist. But the fact it does exist shows that it is indeed necessary and that there is still discrimination and violence towards the LGBT+ community.”
De Sutter was presented with the prize by OUTtv presenter Jens Geerts, in a scaled-down ceremony in a Flemish field. Previous winners of the award include European Council president Charles Michel, girl group K3 and journalist Bo Van Spilbeeck.
“By being who she is, Petra De Sutter increases the visibility of trans people in politics and she is a role model for anyone who wants to forge a career without renouncing his, her or their individuality,” Geerts said.
“Figureheads such as Mrs De Sutter help us to gradually separate things such as gender, sexual orientation and sex and to consider them non-binary. A more tolerant and inclusive society will only come about if we continuously engage in dialogue, listen to each other and allow ourselves to think ‘out of the box’.”
Petra De Sutter is a role model for anyone who wants to forge a career without renouncing his, her or their individuality
Nearly 5,000 people in Flanders voted in the awards, with 3,000 nominating De Sutter. “In our society there are voices wanting to turn back the clock,” she warned. “If we look at what is currently happening in Hungary, for example, we can see there are changes happening within Europe that are very worrying. We must therefore ensure that this evolution of intolerance does not take the upper hand in our country.”
OUTtv is a lifestyle channel broadcast in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Israel and Luxembourg. The OUT Media Award was created in 2014 to promote better representation of the LGBT+ community in the mainstream media.
Photo: Jens Geerts presents Petra De Sutter with the OUT Media Award in a low-key ceremony