Edgars Rinkēvičs has made history by becoming Europe’s first openly gay President. The politician was elected by the Latvian Parliament on Wednesday, May 31, receiving 52 out of 87 votes.
Taking to Twitter to respond to the result, the 49-year-old said that he is “honoured and humbled” to assume the position.
“I will do my best to serve the people of Latvia well,” he added.
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
Rinkēvičs is expected to give his oath and officially start his new post in the first half of July, succeeding the current head of state, Egils Levits, who has held office since 2019. While the role is somewhat ceremonial, he will have certain executive powers and will represent the nation internationally.
Riga Pride congratulated Edgars Rinkēvičs on his historic appointment, saying, “We wish you success in fulfilling you duties, standing up for the values enshrined in the Constitution – respect, justice and equality.
“We hope that during his presidency, a regulation will be adopted for the legal protection of all families,” the organisation added.
Apsveicam @edgarsrinkevics ar ievēlēšanu un novēlam veiksmi amata pienākumu pildīšanā, iestājoties par Satversmē nostiprinātajām vērtībām – cieņu, tiesiskumu un vienlīdzību. Ceram, ka viņa prezidentūras laikā tiks pieņemts regulējums visu ģimeņu tiesiskajai aizsardzībai. pic.twitter.com/AEN056YnUZ
— Riga Pride (@RigaPride) May 31, 2023
The politician publicly came out as gay in November 2014 while serving as the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position which he has held from 2011 until now. At the time, he spoke about improving the legal status of same-sex relationships in Latvia, and although the country has not yet achieved marriage equality, civil unions are possible for queer couples as of last year.
However, LGBTQ+ people in the country still face a lot of legal and societal challenges, with the nation ranking 37th out of 49 EU member states in the 2023 Rainbow Map and Index.
While Rinkēvičs is Europe’s first openly gay President, other political leaders, such as Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and San Marino’s former Captain Regent Paolo Rondelli, have all also identified as LGBTQ+.
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