November 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Latvian foreign minister comes out
Latvia, gay news, Washington Blade

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, second from left, met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last month. (Photo courtesy of the Latvian Embassy)

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on Thursday came out as gay on his Twitter page.

“I proudly announce I am gay,” he wrote in English. “Good luck all of you.”

Rinkēvičs tweeted in Latvian before he came out that he supports “a legal framework for all types of partnerships” in the former Soviet republic. He used the hashtag #Proudtobegay.

The Latvian constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The country’s lawmakers have also debated a measure similar to the Russian law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors.

Rinkēvičs, 41, came out less than a month after the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association’s annual European conference took place in Riga, the Latvian capital.

The Latvian Embassy in D.C. did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

Kaspars Zalitis of Mozaika, a Latvian LGBT advocacy group, applauded Rinkēvičs.

“I think it is one of the most amazing things,” Zalitis told the Blade on Friday as he returned to the former Soviet republic from Uganda, highlighting the hashtag #ProudofEdgars. “The minister just proved that change is possible and I am very proud of him and my country.”

Daniel Baer, the gay U.S. Ambassador to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also welcomed Rinkēvičs’ announcement.

“Coming out is a very personal step, but one that can also have a significant impact on those around you,” Baer told the Blade in a statement. “When a public figure like [Foreign Minister] Rinkevics comes out, it sends a public message, one that reminds us that LGBT people are our doctors and soldiers and athletes and public servants and that they live in every society — and underscores the importance of continuing to make progress toward a world without hate.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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