For the first time in its history, Latvia has elected two openly gay politicians.
The pro-Russian Harmony party won the most votes in Latvia’s general elections at the weekend.
The 2018 elections featured the highest number of LGBTI candidates ever. An openly gay man, Robert Putnis, was even made the leader of the Progressives party.
But two managed to get over the line including the incumbent foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs. The foreign minister came out as gay in 2014 and was successfully reelected over the weekend.
Marija Golubeva, a former consultant at a leading think-tank, won her election representing the Development!For party, which managed to win 13 seats the 100-seat parliament.
‘The election of two openly MPs is definitely a significant development for the LGBTI community which until recently remained mostly invisible in a public life,’ LGBTI activist Juris Lavrikovs told Gay Star News.
‘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.’
LGBTI issues have recently gained momentum in Latvia including around the marriage equality debate.
But Latvia still remains far behind other European countries on LGBTI issues. It was one of the lowest ranking countries on ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Index last year. The Index ranks countries based on what rights they have for LGBTI people.
In 2005, the Latvian parliament actually amended its constitution to define marriage as union exclusively between a man and a woman.