A member of the executive board of Latvia's ruling Unity Party resigned on Tuesday after a string of tweets attacking LGBT people, including one in which she appeared to praise the Nazi extermination of homosexuals, Latvian Public Broadcasting reported.
"Thank God — at one time, the Germans shot them. It improves fertility," Inga Priede, a local elected official from the western town of Kandava, wrote in a tweet that has since been removed. The tweet came in an exchange on same-sex partnership rights, which another Unity Party member — Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs — called for in a tweet in which he also came out as gay.
Priede was widely condemned by several members of the Unity Party, including Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma. Ilze Viņķele, a former welfare minister, tweeted that Priede's statements could be grounds for prosecution for inciting violence.
Priede replied that she was not calling for violence, but only "urging the upholding of Christian values." She also announced her resignation from the party's executive board, a purely symbolic gesture because her term has already expired and a new board will be elected this week.
The controversy comes as Latvia's LGBT rights record is in the spotlight. The foreign minister's coming out makes Latvia the first country from the former Soviet Union with an out gay member of government, and the country will be hosting a European-wide LGBT rights festival in the spring while Latvia holds the European Union's rotating presidency. A campaign is also underway to try to hold a referendum on a Russian-style "gay propaganda" ban, led by a controversial ethnic-Russian activist who became a public figure in the early 1990s when he published the Soviet Union's first erotic newspaper.
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