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Latvia: Edgars Rinkevics becomes first publicly gay head of state 

“I will do my best to serve the people of Latvia well"

By Jamie Tabberer

Edgars Rinkevics
Edgars Rinkevics (Image: wikimedia)

Latvia has elected its first publicly gay head of state in the form of long-serving diplomat Edgars Rinkevics.

When he assumes office on 8 July 2023, he will also become the first publicly gay head of state in a European Union country.

Addressing his win on Twitter this week, Rinkevics said: “I will do my best to serve the people of Latvia well. I thank members of parliament for their trust.”

“Looking forward to working with you”

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also spoke out about Rinkevics’ victory, saying: “Congratulations on your election as President of Latvia, @edgarsrinkevics.

“Your vast experience as Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs will be crucial in our European efforts to support the brave nation of Ukraine. Looking forward to working with you.”

A Riga Pride representative said in a statement: “We wish you success in fulfilling you duties, standing up for the values enshrined in the Constitution – respect, justice and equality.”

The statement furthermore added: “We hope that during his presidency, a regulation will be adopted for the legal protection of all families.”

Rinkevics received 52 votes – one more than he needed to win – following a contest on 31 May.

“I proudly announce I am gay”

Rinkevics, who has served as Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2011, came out publicly as “proudly” gay in 2014.

He tweeted at the time: “I proudly announce I’am gay… Good luck all of you…”

Rinkevics, who is 49, also serves as President of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Gay sex has been legal in Latvia since 1992. However, on the LGBT Equality Index, which ranks countries on the basis of LGBTQ human rights, Latvia comes in at number 71.

Latvia’s current head of state since 2019, Egils Levits, did not seek reelection.