This is a small victory in a country where homosexuality was illegal thirty years ago. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics was elected state president by the Baltic country's parliament on Wednesday, becoming the first openly gay person to hold the position.
A leading Latvian diplomat since 2011, the 49-year-old will replace Egils Levits, who has decided not to stand for a second term. "I will do everything to ensure that our country prospers and is safe," Rinkevics said after the vote in parliament.
I am honoured and humbled to be elected as President of the Republic of Latvia, I will do my best to serve the people of Latvia well. I thank Members of Parliament for their trust 🇱🇻
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) May 31, 2023
Edgars Rinkevics came out as gay in 2014, becoming the first political figure in the country to do so. A welcome situation but one that stands out in a country that meets only 24% of the criteria of the Rainbow Europe index of the European branch of the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex association aiming at the equality of all people.
Latvia 'in good hands'
Before becoming foreign minister, Rinkevics worked as a foreign policy analyst at public broadcaster Latvijas Radio, for the Ministry of Defense and the President's Office. "Latvia will be in good hands for the next four years," said outgoing President Levits following the election of his successor.
Riga is a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, advocating for Kiev's membership of the EU and NATO. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately congratulated Edgars Rinkevics, calling him "a true friend of Ukraine." The president of Latvia, a member of NATO and the EU, occupies a largely ceremonial role.