Edgars Rinkeviczs, elected president of Latvia on 31 May, is the first openly gay person in the European Union to become head of state. “Riga Pride” congratulates the politician. Rinkeviczs revealed information about his orientation nine years ago. Then he called for the rights of civil unions.
Edgars Rinkeviczs, 49, won Wednesday’s vote in the Latvian parliament and he was elected president. He will hold this position for four years. The politician has so far occupied an important position in the government – he has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs for over a decade.
“Riga Pride” congratulates
Rinkeviczs’ election to the presidency was welcomed by LGBTQ rights groups. The Washington Post notes that he will be the first openly gay head of state in the EU. Rinkeviczs was congratulated on Twitter by “Riga Pride”, the organizer of the equality march, which will go through the streets of Riga on June 3. The election of Rinkeviczs as president was made a few days before this event, notes the American daily.
Coming out in 2014: I am proud to announce that I am gay
Rinkeviczs came out about his sexual orientation in 2014. Thus, he was the first prominent politician in the country who decided to take such a step. He tweeted in English at the time: “I am proud to announce that I am gay. Good luck everyone.”
In a second tweet, written in Latvian, he called for civil partnership laws to be passed in the country, and tagged his post with the hashtag #proudtobegay, meaning “proud to be gay.” In an interview with Radio Latvian, he said that he did not believe that people should change their attitude towards him because of his orientation. – It’s time for us to be more open and honest. Believe me, such decisions are not easy to make and can take a long time. “I have considered all the positive and negative consequences that could arise from my decision, and I felt it was better to be honest and frank, and to encourage discussion on these issues, including legalizing civil unions, which is a complex issue.” indicated, quoted by “Baltic Times”.
IN Latvia however, same-sex relationships have not yet been legally sanctioned. IN the recently published ranking of the level of equality of LGBT+ people (the so-called rainbow ranking) Latvia won only 22%, which placed it in one of the last places in the EU in terms of respecting the rights of LGBTQ people (Poland obtained 15%). The Washington Post notes that Rinkeviczs will be president in one of the Baltic states that has long been much less tolerant of LGBTQ people than Western European countries.
However, Rinkeviczs is not the first European politician who openly spoke about his orientation. This fact was previously revealed by prime ministers Ireland Leo Varadkar, Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel and – from outside the EU – Ana Brnabic, prime minister Serbia .
Rinkeviczs promises a pro-Western course
Rinkeviczs was the longest-serving foreign minister in the history of the country – he held this position since 2011. At that time, he won the support of many Latvian citizens thanks to his hard line against Russia among others in conjunction with war in Ukraine. On Wednesday after his election, he promised that there would be “no surprises or surprises” in Riga’s support for Kiev or for the EU and NATO, which are “the basis of our foreign policy.” He declared that Latvia would stay on the western course.
The President of Latvia performs representative functions and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he can submit bills, ratify international agreements, and, among others, nominate a prime minister.
Washington Post, Baltic Times, PAP, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/TOMS KALNINS