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European Union’s first openly gay head of state sworn in

The European Union’s first openly gay head of state has been sworn in in Latvia.

Edgars Rinkevics served as foreign minister from 2011 and was sworn in as president on Saturday after his election in May.

Mr Rinkevics came out publicly in 2014, posting on Twitter: “I proudly announce I am gay… Good luck all of you.”

At the time he pledged to fight for gay people to have equal relationship rights.


Same-sex marriage is not legal in Latvia, but civil partnerships have been available to gay couples since last year.

Latvia’s presidency is largely a ceremonial post and the head of state acts mainly as an opinion leader and uniting figure in the country.

The president’s responsibilities include representing Latvia abroad, acting as the supreme commander of the armed forces, signing bills into law, and nominating the prime minister.

The EU has had openly gay people elected as heads of government before – including Ireland’s Leo Varadkar – but never a gay head of state.

Many countries have two people performing the roles of head of state and head of government – in the UK, the King is head of state.

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In his inaugural speech on Saturday, Mr Rinkevics pledged “to stand up for a modern and strong Latvia, for a legal and just Latvia, for the wellbeing of the people, for an inclusive and respectful society”.

He added: “The rights of every person must be respected and protected in accordance with the highest human rights values and standards.”

He also vowed to continue Latvia’s support for the “heroic Ukrainian people”, saying the country’s foreign policy “does not have time for mistakes”.

Mr Rinkevics, 49, is the seventh president of Latvia, a nation of 1.8 million that has been a member of the EU and NATO since it regained its independence in 1991.


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