Edgar Rinkevics was elected President of Latvia. Photo/Reuters
RIGA – Parliament Latvia chose Edgars Rinkevics as the Baltic nation’s next president, after incumbent Egils Levits chose not to run for a second term. Rinkevics will become the first homosexual head of state from a member state European Union (UE).
The Prime Minister of Latvia, Krisjanis Karins, announced that Rinkevics had emerged victorious after three rounds of voting. He got 52 votes out of 100 members of Seimas, according to media reports in Riga as quoted by Russia Today, Thursday (1/6/2023).
The 49-year-old has been the Foreign Minister of Latvia since 2011. He came out of his homosexuality in 2014, the first senior official to do so in the country of nearly 1.9 million.
Rinkevics is technically the second openly gay European head of state. The distinction of being first goes to Paolo Rondelli, who served as captain-regent of San Marino – an independent principality on the Italian peninsula – in 2022. However, San Marino is not a member of the EU, while Latvia joined the bloc in 2004.
The first openly gay head of government in the European Union was Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo in 2011. Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg, who was elected in 2013, is still in office. Likewise, Leo Varadkar from Ireland, who was first elected in 2017.
The bloc has declared asserting LGBT identity as one of its “fundamental values,” contradicting members such as Hungary and Poland over laws that uphold the traditional family. According to Bloomberg, the Latvian parliament has yet to vote on a bill that would approve civil marriage between same-sex couples.
Together with its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia was part of the Russian Empire until 1918, and the Soviet Union from 1940-1941, and between 1945 and 1991.
The Baltic Republic insisted that the Soviet period be regarded as an illegal occupation, and honored those who collaborated with Nazi Germany as patriots, while outlawing celebrations of victory over the Third Reich and destroying monuments and graves of the Red Army.