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Latvia’s Edgars Rinkevics is E.U.’s first brazenly homosexual president-elect

Lawmakers in Latvia have chosen Overseas Minister Edgars Rinkevics because the nation’s new president, making him the primary brazenly homosexual head of state within the European Union.

The 49-year-old’s election — which was finalized because the Latvian capital of Riga was kicking off Delight celebrations — was celebrated by homosexual rights activists throughout Europe. It additionally highlights the widening gulf between Latvia, which was occupied by the Soviet Union for a few half-century, and Russia.

The struggle in Ukraine has introduced more and more harsh ways towards homosexual Russians at dwelling. The Kremlin has tightened restrictions on LGBTQ “propaganda,” and Russian lawmakers are contemplating laws that might ban gender-reassignment surgical procedure. The notion of defending conventional Christian beliefs has additionally been used to justify Russia’s unlawful invasion, The Washington Submit has reported.

Attitudes towards homosexual folks and others of non-heterosexual orientations have traditionally been much less tolerant within the three Baltic nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — than in Western Europe.

Rinkevics — a center-right politician who has served as international minister for greater than a decade — got here out in 2014, asserting on Twitter that he was “proud to be homosexual.” On the time, he pledged to combat for a authorized framework for same-sex marriage, which stays unlawful in Latvia.

The nation of about 1.9 million folks ranks among the many worst locations in Europe to be an LGBTI citizen when it comes to authorized rights, in keeping with an index printed by the rights group ILGA.

The president in Latvia holds a largely ceremonial function and is elected by members of its 100-seat parliament.

Rinkevics acquired 52 of a doable 87 votes in a runoff spherical of voting on Wednesday — another than required to win the submit. His closest rival, businessman Uldis Pilens, acquired 25 votes. The populist For Stability occasion, which is related to Latvia’s Russian-speaking minority, voted towards each finalists.

He’s set to imagine workplace on July 8.

Baltic nations lengthy warned about Russia. Now, possibly the West is listening

Rinkevics, who in his earlier function because the nation’s prime diplomat gained favor with many Latvians over his unwavering stance towards Russia in assist of Ukraine, pledged Wednesday to “serve the folks of Latvia properly.”

In a information convention after the votes had been tallied, he stated there can be “no surprises, no modifications” in Riga’s assist for Kyiv, and its backing of the E.U. and NATO “because the cornerstones of our international coverage,” state media reported.

Latvia and Estonia have equipped extra army assist to Ukraine as a share of their financial system than every other nation, in keeping with a tracker by the Kiel Institute in Germany. The Baltic international locations, together with Warsaw, have additionally been instrumental in serving to Kyiv safe army assist from the West.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Rinkevics on his appointment, describing him as a “true good friend of Ukraine.”

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