Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has announced he’s gay, in a Twitter message that is sure to cause ructions with the former Soviet state’s neighbours.

He had earlier promised to fight for equal rights for LGBT people in a longer message in Latvian, saying, ‘Our country has to create a legal status for all kinds of partner relationships, and I will fight for this. I know that there will quickly be mega-hysteria, but #proudtobegay.’

Latvia has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and is also planning a law that would ban schools from teaching that same-sex marriage is equal to mixed gender marriage; the country is also planning a law against ‘homosexual propaganda‘, in line with Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.

Latvia is set to take up the rotating presidency of the European Union on 1 January, giving Rinkēvičs even more opportunity to make his name known, and to push for greater tolerance among other EU member states. The country came 36th out of 49 European states on ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Index.

Belarusan President Alexander Lukashenko made headlines when he said, ‘It’s better to be a dictator than gay,’ in response to criticism of his human rights record from Germany’s then Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, who is openly gay.

Rinkēvičs is one of Latvia’s most popular politicians, and has long declined to discuss his personal life, despite having attended Baltic Pride in Riga, Latvia’s capital, in the past. He is a member of the ruling Unity party and since 2011 has been the Foreign Minister for the Baltic nation of 2 million people.