San Marino, the world’s oldest republic, has taken another historic step this week in appointing the world’s first openly gay head of state: 58-year-old Paolo Rondelli.
Rondelli will join Oscar Mina as one of the two captains regent, San Marino’s heads of state, according to The Guardian. The captains regent are the country’s highest elected officials and serve six-month terms. In their role, they supervise the Grand and General Council, the Congress of State, and the Council of XII. While they don’t vote or have executive power, they do have the right of veto.
Before his role as captain regent, Rondelli was an outspoken LGBTQ+ activist and a deputy in the Great and General Council, San Marino’s parliament. He also was an ambassador to the United States for nine years, a role that ended in 2016.
The medieval city state of San Marino is located near the eastern coast of Italy and is one of Europe’s microstates — which include Andorra, Liechtenstein, Vatican City, and Monaco. It was founded in 301 and is home to nearly 35,000 residents.
This election marks a hugely progressive step for San Marino, where up until 2004 homosexuality was a crime punishable by prison time. However, in recent years San Marino has trended more progressive with same-sex marriage becoming legally recognized there in 2016.
While San Marino might have been the first to elect an out head of state, there have been LGBTQ+ heads of government prior, including Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić and Xavier Bettel, prime minister of Luxembourg.