Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s longest-serving foreign minister, today became the first openly gay head of state in the European Union.
When he was sworn in as the country’s new president, he pledged to fight for inclusion and equality.
In his inaugural speech to the parliament, which elected him on May 31, he said he would use his limited powers to influence legislation and shape public opinion to make Latvia a more inclusive and egalitarian country.
“Latvia is a sovereign, free and democratic country. But it must be legal and fair for everyone. Every person in Latvia, its citizens, must feel they belong, legally protected and safe,” the new president said in an apparent referring to his previous support for a gender-neutral civil unions law.
Rinkevics served as foreign minister from 2011 until his official resignation on Friday and made his sexual orientation public in November 2014.
In his inauguration speech he referred to inclusion stating that “in Latvia, the rights of every person must be respected and protected in accordance with the highest human rights values and standards”.
“I am ready to work closely with the legislature, executive and judiciary to achieve these goals,” he added.
On foreign policy, the new president underlined: “Latvia will represent a strong and effective NATO, the European Union, a law-based international order and close cooperation with our friends and allies. We will continue to support the heroic Ukrainian people in his struggle for freedom until the victory of Ukraine”