Foreign minister tweets he's gay
RIGA (AP):Latvia's foreign minister has announced on Twitter that he's gay, becoming the first openly homosexual Cabinet member in the Baltic country.
The announcement by Edgars Rinkevics, 41, was welcomed by gay-rights activists as an important step in a part of Europe where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often complain of discrimination.
Rinkevics tweeted in Latvian late last Thursday in support of legal recognition of same-sex partnerships with #proudtobegay. He followed up with a tweet in English saying: "I proudly announce I'am gay... Good luck all of you..."
The latter was retweeted 1,200 times and favourited 2,300 times. Rinkevics' tweets normally get no more than 20 interactions.
The foreign ministry confirmed the tweets were authentic.
As in much of eastern Europe, same-sex partnerships aren't legal and are generally frowned upon in Latvia. Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins recently told the LETA news agency that such unions are against Latvian "customs".
Earlier this year, neighbouring Estonia became the first former Soviet republic to legally recognise same-sex unions.