A Latvian politician has stepped down after a series of homophobic tweets. The New York Observer translated the tweets from Inga Priede, the head of the Unity party in the Kandava Region, where she said: “Thank God Nazis shot gays”.
The centre-right party is part of the coalition government in the Baltic state, and forms part of the influential “European People’s Party”, the largest group in the European Parliament which once counted the British Conservative Party as a member.
The conversation on the social media site comes less than a month after the country’s Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics, used it to publicly ‘come out’.
In a tweet on the 6th November we wrote, “I proudly announce I am gay…Good luck all of you”.
Ms Priede went online to discuss same sex marriage with her fellow party members as the controversial topic may well come up in the Parliament.
But her tweets, directed towards Latvian gays, caused a storm as she wrote that Latvian villagers were “in shock” after hearing that same sex marriage could be legalised.
She dug herself deeper by saying that gay people in rural areas “are not proud” of their sexual orientation “because there are basic values” before sealing her own fate, tweeting, “Thank God Nazis shot gays” according to the translation.
The party’s leader Solvita Aboltina immediately distanced herself from Ms Priede’s statements, saying “These statements definitely do not represent Unity’s point of view and contradict it.”
Ms Priede initially denied that she had posted the inflammatory tweets but later deleted them and stepped down from her position in the party, apologising for her remarks.
Her own colleague in the Latvian Parliament, Ikze Vinkele, told a news website in the country:
“Such statements are absolutely unacceptable. And her later attempts to say she didn’t write these criminal things or that she had been misunderstood prove that Ms. Priede is not a brave person and does not take responsibility for her words.”
The mentioning of Nazis in particular will reopen wounds in a country which has a painful past including the location of death camps during the Second World War. More than 70,000 Latvian Jews, 2,000 gypsies and an unknown number of homosexuals were murdered in the Holocaust with the camps being manned by Latvian collaborators.
Every year on March 16th, former veterans of the Latvian Waffen-SS march on ‘Legion Day’ which opponents say glorifies Nazism. Although no longer an official commemorative day because of EU objections, the Unity party still supports veterans of the Legion and participates in some events.