The EU’s first openly gay head of state was been sworn in Saturday in Latvia.
Edgars Rinkevics served as Latvia’s foreign minister from 2011 and was sworn in as president on yesterday after his election in May.
Rinkevics, 49, came out publicly in 2014, posting on Twitter;
I proudly announce I am gay… Good luck all of you.”
At the time he pledged to fight for gay people to have equal relationship rights. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Latvia. Civil partnerships have been available to gay couples only since last year.
Latvia’s president is mostly a figure-head and responsibilities include;
- acting as an opinion leader to unite the country
- representing Latvia abroad
- acting as the supreme commander of the armed forces
- signing bills into law
- nominating the prime minister
In his inaugural speech, Rinkevics vowed to,
…stand up for a modern and strong Latvia, for a legal and just Latvia, for the wellbeing of the people, for an inclusive and respectful society.
The rights of every person must be respected and protected in accordance with the highest human rights values and standards.”
The EU has had openly gay people elected as heads of government before but never a gay head of state.
Rinkevics is the seventh president of Latvia, a nation of 1.8 million that has been a member of the EU and NATO since it regained its independence in 1991.
Latvians have happily sworn in their first openly gay President, causing Mike Pence to ask, "I thought they were called lesbians"— Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) July 9, 2023
(Photos, YouTube, Wikimedia Commons; via Sky News)