History made as EU's first openly gay president takes office in Latvia

Edgar Rinkēvičs was sworn into office on Saturday, July 8, making Latvia the first EU nation with an openly LGBTQ+ president. 

Edgars Rinkēvičs speaks into microphone in front of crowd, he was recently elected as the first openly gay President of Latvia.
Image: Twitter @Rigas_pils

Latvia officially became the first European Union country with an openly gay president after swearing Edgars Rinkēvičs into office on Saturday, July 8.

In his inauguration speech, President Rinkēvičs, 49, pledged: “During my presidency, I will stand up for the creation of a modern and strong Latvia, for a legal and just Latvia, for the wellbeing of the people, for an inclusive and respectful society.”

The EU’s first openly gay president also reaffirmed his support for Ukraine, saying: “Russia’s war and genocide in Ukraine have created a new, harsh reality. We will continue to support the heroic Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom until Ukraine’s final victory. We will continue to fight against Russian imperialism and its evil world ideology.”

Rinkēvičs was elected on Wednesday, May 31, and he thanked the Latvian Parliament for their trust in him.

After officially taking office, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs became the seventh out LGBTQ+ world leader. Other EU member states with openly LGBTQ+ leaders include Ireland, Belgium, Iceland, Luxembourg, San Marino, and Serbia.

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was the world’s first openly gay prime minister, she served as prime minister of Iceland from 2009 to 2013. Other prominent LGBTQ+ leaders include Elio Di Rupo, an atheist and socialist who was prime minister of Belgium from 2011-2014 and Ana Brnabić, the current Prime Minister of Serbia became the first woman and first openly LGBTQ+ leader elected in 2017.

Rinkēvičs proudly came out in 2014, while serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, announcing on Twitter “Good luck all of you…”:

Since taking office, Rinkēvičs has shared his support for same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights, but same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Latvia.

While Latvia allows same-sex civil unions and is the first EU nation with an openly gay president, it still ranks 37 out of 49 EU member states in the 2023 Rainbow Map and Index.

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