The 100-seat Riga legislature voted Rinkevics, who has been the country’s highest ambassador for almost 12 years, as the new president of Latvia. Rinkevics was chosen by the ruling party of Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins.
In 2014, longtime politician and foreign minister Rinkevics came out, revealing on social media that he was “proud to be gay.” Since then, he has been a vocal advocate of LGBT rights.
But there has never been an out gay head of state in the history of the EU. Edgars Rinkevics is now the first openly gay head of state of a member state of the European Union.
Mr. Rinkevics, who had been the country’s foreign minister since 2011, took the oath of office in Riga.
Gay rights supporters from all across Europe rejoiced at the 49-year-old’s election, which concluded with an official ceremony in Riga, the capital of Latvia. In the runoff election Rinkevics garnered 52 of 87 potential votes, one more than was necessary to secure the position. Uldis Pilens, the populist For Stability party, came in second with 25 votes.
Mr. Rinkevics pledged to continue aiding Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia and promised to act “quickly, decisively, and wisely.” Observing that “mistakes do not have time” in Latvia’s foreign policy.
He stated at a press conference that Riga would continue providing assistance to Kyiv.
Mr. Rinkevics promised to fight for same-sex marriage legalization in Latvia, where it is still illegal. An index produced by the rights organization ILGA places the country of about two million residents among the lowest in Europe for LGBTQ citizens in terms of legal rights. Mr. Rinkevics takes over from Egils Levits who served as president for four years and will represent Latvia at NATO’s summits