Edgars Rinkevics

For the first time, an official of a former Soviet republic has come out as gay.

In a tweet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote, “I Proudly Announce I Am Gay.”

Latvia held parliamentary elections in October and Rinkevics was the subject of a whispering campaign about his sexuality. Despite that, he easily won re-election.

In Latvia, as in most of Eastern Europe, marriage equality remains illegal.

Rinkevics’ announcement was “historic for the whole post-Soviet bloc because its quite homophobic,” said Kristine Garina, head of a Latvian LGBT rights group. “He’s the first such high politician in the post-Soviet space that has come out.”