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    Latvia Elects Edgars Rinkevics, Its First Openly Gay President

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    Latvia’s parliament on Wednesday elected Edgars Rinkevics, the country’s foreign minister since 2011, as its new president, making him the first openly gay head of state in the European Union and the Baltic nations.

    Rinkevics received 52 votes out of 100 in the legislature in Riga, the capital, to succeed Egils Levits, who did not seek reelection. Levits said he was disappointed that the ruling coalition parties could not agree on a joint candidate.

    Rinkevics announced his sexual orientation in 2014 with a tweet saying “I am proudly gay.” He will be the first openly gay president in the Baltic nations — all former Soviet republics where attitudes to sexual minorities have been less tolerant than in western Europe.

    Rinkevics, 49, is known for his strong support for Ukraine and his criticism of Russia. He also said he would work to strengthen Latvia’s security, economy and social cohesion.

    Rinkevics ran as the candidate of his and Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’s New Unity party. He served as a state secretary with the Defense Ministry and worked as a journalist with Latvian Radio in the 1990s.

    As foreign minister, he has enjoyed high popularity among Latvians because of his hard stance toward neighboring Russia and his unwavering support for Ukraine.

    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 where almost one-third of residents speak Russian.

    The new president will be Latvia’s 11th head of state, counting from the country’s first independence declared in 1918.

    A Baltic nation of 1.9 million, Latvia borders Russia to the east, Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south. Latvia has been a member of NATO and the European Union since 2004. The country is home to a sizable ethnic Russian minority, many of whom are Russian citizens. Latvia regained its independence in 1991 following nearly 50 years of Soviet rule.

    Relevant articles:
    – Rinkevics Elected As Latvia First Gay President, Barrons, May 31, 2023
    – Latvian Parliament elects first openly gay president of a Baltic nation, NBC News, May 31, 2023
    – Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkevics chosen as president, MSN, May 31, 2023
    – EU’s First Openly Gay Head of State Elected by Latvian Assembly, Bloomberg, May 31, 2023
    – Rinkevics Elected As Latvia First Gay President, Barrons, May 31, 2023
    – Latvian Parliament elects first openly gay president of a Baltic nation, NBC News, May 31, 2023
    – Latvian Foreign Minister Rinkevics chosen as president, MSN, May 31, 2023

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