Belgium’s first transgender politician to be appointed as the country’s deputy prime minister has been attacked by the far-right just days after being sworn into office. Petra De Sutter was formally appointed in her new role last weekend, making her the highest-ranking transgender politician in Europe. But although her appointment was applauded by many for breaking new ground, it has not pleased everybody, including critics in the regional parliament of her native Flanders in northern Belgium.
Bart Claes of the Flemish Interest party posted on Facebook that De Sutter “wants to destroy and replace all cornerstones of our Western civilization". Claes also claimed in a tweet that De Sutter was “the personification of cultural Marxism”. The remarks were immediately criticised. De Sutter's party colleague, Bjorn Rzoska, decried attempts to “dehumanize her". And Liesbeth Homans, speaker of the Flemish parliament said she found Claes' comments “extremely reprehensible”, while at the same time defending free speech. Claes, however, would not back down and took to Facebook again to claim that: “I don't see the problem. I said that a transgender… is a transgender."