In a significant leap forward for LGBT+ representation in Latvia, two out politicians, Marija Golubeva and Edgars Rinkēvičs, have been elected to government.
In the case of Rinkēvičs, it was actually a re-election as he is the incumbent Foreign Minister, but he only came out publicly as gay in 2014 after his original success. Golubeva is a member of the Development For party. It’s a huge deal for a country which not only does not allow same-sex marriage, but actually redefined its constitution to block it.
In an interview with Gay Star News, activist Juris Lavrikovs spoke of the importance of their sucess – “Their election will serve as a strong encouragement and an assurance for LGBTI people to come out. This is also an important signal for a wider society further breaking down the stereotypes and prejudice.”
The heartening results of the Latvia election comes on the heels of recent news from Romania where a controversial referendum to put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage had to be declared invalid after only 20 per cent of eligible voters turned out to the polls. It would have required a minimum turnout of at least 30 per cent to be declared valid. Worryingly, of those who did turn out, 91 per cent voted to block same-sex marriage.
It also stands in contrast to the current situation in Brazil, where right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the first round of the presidential vote. Bolsonaro has been declared dangerous to women, minorities and the LGBT+ community for his openly announced worrying views, including saying he would rather have a son die in an accident than turn out to be gay.
Taking home 46 per cent of the total votes in the first round, shy of the 50 per cent needed to win outright, Bolsonaro will now go head to head with nearest opponent, Fernando Haddid of the Worker’s Party.
With the worrying likelihood of Bolsonaro’s victory, the good news from Latvia could not be more welcome.
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