The tiny republic of San Marino, nestled within Italy, ushered in the world's first openly gay head of state on Friday, with equality activists hailing it as a "historic event."
Paolo Rondelli, 58, is one of two Captains Regent elected by the legislature who will lead San Marino, a microstate of 34 000 people, for the next six months, as per tradition in the northern republic.
The relatively conservative Catholic nation only decriminalised homosexuality in 2004.
But in recent years San Marino has taken steps to strengthen civil rights, most recently voting in a September referendum to legalise abortion.
A former chemical engineer, Rondelli began working in politics in the 1990s and served for nine years as San Marino's ambassador to the United States beginning in 2007.
"I will probably be the first head of state in the world to belong to the LGBT+ community (only ministers and prime ministers so far)," wrote Rondelli on his Facebook account Saturday.