Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir retired from politics yesterday ahead of general elections today.
Sigurdardottir became the world’s first openly gay or lesbian head of state in February of 2009 when she was appointed Prime Minister of Iceland after Independence Party leader Geir Haarde resigned over his handling of the country’s then financial crisis.
Iceland’s voters gave her appointment the seal of approval two month later, giving her the task of fixing the country’s financial crisis.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iceland the following June and Sigurdardottir became one of the first to utilize the new law, marrying her long term partner Jonina Leosdottir who she had already been in a civil union with since 2002.
The same year Sigurdardottir banned strip clubs and other forms of adult entertainment in an effort to advance women’s rights.
Sigurdardottir also oversaw an overhaul of the Icelandic constitution with the help of civil society groups and an assembly of 1,200 ordinary citizens.
Sigurdardottir was reportedly presented with a bouquet of flowers in the gay pride colors by Icelandic LGBT group Samtokin ’78 on her retirement for her work on LGBT issues and same-sex marriage.
Sigurdardottir was first elected to parliament in 1978 and was Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security from 1987 to 1994 and 2007 to 2009.
Iceland’s former Minister for Business Affairs Arni Pall Arnason has been selected to succeed Sigurdardottir as leader of the country’s Social Democratic Party.