Members of the European Parliament have welcomed the appointment of Alexander Stubb as Finland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He has been one of the Parliament’s leading gay and lesbian rights campaigners and Vice President of the LGBT Intergroup.

“The Intergroup is thrilled for Alexander and sends him our warmest greetings,” said British MEP Michael Cashman, President of the Intergroup.

“It has been a great pleasure working with Alexander. Finland has made a great choice.”

Mr Stubb was appointed on Tuesday, his 40th birthday.

“When your country calls, the answer is unequivocally yes,” he said of his decision to return to national politics, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

He has been an MEP since 2004 and is a member of the National Coalition Party, which is centre-right but pro-Europe.

Former Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva resigned after he was embroiled in a scandal involving text messages he sent to a female dancer.

Mr Stubb, who is married with three children, previously worked as an aide to Romani Prodi, the former President of the European Commission.

“The Parliamentary group of the National Coalition Party described Stubb as surprising and courageous, adding that “he puts a smile on one’s face,” reported Helsingin Sanomat.

“Stubb is widely regarded as a competent figure, and is known to be a firm advocate of Finnish NATO membership.”

“It has been exciting working side by side with Alexander on protecting rights of LGBT people in Europe and beyond,” Sophie in ‘t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup.

“It is sad he leaves us at the Intergroup but I wish him all the best in his new position.”

Lissy Gröner, Vice-President of the Intergroup for the PSE added,

“Alexander has been such a nice colleague in the Intergroup.

“I want to thank him for the contribution he has made for the rights of LGBT people.”