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Latvian Foreign Minister Confirms He Is Gay

The announcement made waves in the former Soviet republic and across its border with Russia.

Posted on November 6, 2014, at 5:10 p.m. ET

Updated — Friday, 12:46 pm:

Latvia's Current Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs greats NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and his wife during a 2006 visit.
Anda Kukemilka "Tevijas Sargs" / Via nato.int

Latvia's Current Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs greats NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and his wife during a 2006 visit.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs came out in a tweet posted in English to his feed at around 10:30 pm local time Thursday.

I proudly announce I'am gay... Good luck all of you...

Edgars Rinkēvičs@edgarsrinkevicsFollow

I proudly announce I'am gay... Good luck all of you...

3:05 PM - 06 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Rinkēvičs confirmed to Latvian TV later that evening that his Twitter account had not been hacked and that he is gay.

The news caused a furor within the former Soviet republic and in the region. Latvia shares a border with Russia and has a large Russian-speaking population that gets much of its information from media across the border. A group of social conservatives led by the controversial pro-Russian activist Vladimir Linderman is currently gathering signatures in an effort to place a referendum on enacting a Russian-style "homosexual propaganda" ban on the ballot.

Speaking on Latvian radio Friday, Linderman said the revelation amounted to propaganda.

"Who cares what Rinkēvičs does in the bedroom? But if he announces it publicly, then he is propagandizing a certain ideology," he said.

Linderman also said coming out as LGBT is a "political trend" and that it had secured Rinkēvičs political longevity.

"Now Rinkēvičs won't be removed from his post as minister, due to the fear of criticism from the West," he said. "The most powerful country in the world has legalized same-sex relationships. All ministers will say they're gay, thus recognizing the dominant ideology."

Russian media reports highlighted claims that the 41-year-old minister lives with his mother and harped on Rinkēvičs's creation of a "blacklist" of Russian celebrities barred from visiting Latvia due to their position on the Ukraine crisis. Among those banned is actor Ivan Okhlobystin, who has called for burning LGBT people alive.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister responded sarcastically: "He found something to be proud of. Though, if you have nothing else to be proud of, you can be proud of that :)"

@edgarsrinkevics: "I proudly announce I'am gay..." Нашел чем гордиться. Хотя если больше нечем гордиться, то можно гордиться и этим)

Dmitry Rogozin@RogozinFollow

@edgarsrinkevics: "I proudly announce I'am gay..."

Нашел чем гордиться. Хотя если больше нечем гордиться, то можно гордиться и этим)

3:25 AM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Rinkēvičs said in radio interview that his decision to come out was motivated by discussions around the legalization of same-sex partnerships in Latvia. He also said that while he had not previously announced his sexual orientation, he had not concealed the fact that he is gay.

An hour before the minister tweeted he is gay, another tweet was posted to his feed in Latvian that appeared to endorse legislation that would "create a legal framework for all types of partnerships."

Mūsu valstij ir jārada tiesisks regulējums visu veida partnerattiecኻām, cīnīšos par to, zinu, ka tūliņ būs megahistērja, bet #Proudtobegay

Edgars Rinkēvičs@edgarsrinkevicsFollow

Mūsu valstij ir jārada tiesisks regulējums visu veida partnerattiecኻām, cīnīšos par to, zinu, ka tūliņ būs megahistērja, bet #Proudtobegay

2:09 PM - 06 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

"Our country has created a legal framework for all types of partnerships, will fight for it, I know that will immediately megahistērja, but # Proudtobegay," said the tweet as translated by Google translate. Neighboring Estonia passed a civil union law last month.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tweeted in support of Rinkēvičs.

A very brave man and a very good foreign minister: @edgarsrinkevics

toomas hendrik ilves@IlvesToomasFollow

A very brave man and a very good foreign minister: @edgarsrinkevics

2:20 AM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The Russian Deputy PM shot back: "Have you got a cabal there? I didn't know that gay was a synonym for Russophobe."

@IlvesToomas: A very brave man and foreign minister: @edgarsrinkevics Да у вас тут междусобойчик?) Не знал, что гей - это синоним русофоба

Dmitry Rogozin@RogozinFollow

@IlvesToomas: A very brave man and foreign minister: @edgarsrinkevics

Да у вас тут междусобойчик?) Не знал, что гей - это синоним русофоба

11:15 AM - 07 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Neither the Latvian Foreign Ministry nor Latvia's embassy in Washington could immediately be reached for comment.

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