Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has come out as gay in one of the most public of forums, posting his announcement on Twitter and expressing his hope that his government will move to legalize civil partnerships for same-sex couples.
‘Our country has created a legal framework for all types of partnerships, I will fight for it, I know that it will immediately cause a lot of hysteria but I am #Proudtobegay,’ Rinkevics posted in Latvian to the social media website earlier today.
If anyone had any doubts he posted again in English an hour later, writing, ‘I proudly announce I am gay… Good luck all of you…’
Latvian news media have confirmed that Rinkevics’ Twitter account has not been hacked and that the tweets were genuine.
Rinkevics is the first ever Latvian lawmaker to come out as gay, and possibly the first in any of the former Soviet Bloc states.
It is unknown how Rinkevics’ coming out will affect Latvia’s relationship with neighboring Russia which has been cracking down on public discussion of LGBTI issues in recent years by implementing a law that bans so-called ‘homosexual propaganda.’
However Rinkevics was already a critic of the Russian Government, tweeting just hours before he came out, ‘When President Putin says there was nothing wrong with Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, I say there is huge trouble with contemporary Russia, wake up.’
Latvia banned same-sex marriage in its constitution in 2006 but gays and lesbians may adopt in the country – though they can only do so as single persons and cannot adopt their partner’s children.
Latvia declared its independence from Russia in August of 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union but the country continues to have a large ethnic Russian minority.