Post submitted by Ashley Fowler, former HRC Global Coordinator

Earlier this week, Leo Varadkar, the Health Minister of Ireland, took the brave step forward as the first Irish minister to come out publicly. Varadkar proudly announced on live radio that he is a gay man.  

This was his first time speaking publicly about his sexual orientation, but he said he hoped it would “not be a big deal for people.” His announcement, which also fell on his 36th birthday, comes just four months prior to Ireland’s nationwide referendum on marriage equality.  

The upcoming referendum will determine whether same-sex couples are afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples. While civil partnerships currently exist in Ireland, an Irish organization, Marriage Equality, has identified over 160 differences between civil partnerships and civil marriage.

Varadkar explained, “What I really want to say is that I’d…like the referendum to pass because I’d like to be an equal citizen in my own country, the country in which I happen to be a member of government.”

As a prominent figure within the Irish government, Varadkar is seen as a strong contender to succeed the current Prime Minister as the leader of the ruling party. When asked if he thought Ireland was ready for its first gay Taoiseach, Varadkar agreed that “it probably is,” but he does not think that it will be him. He went on to say, “It might be someone who isn’t even born yet.” 

Whether it's for the first time ever or the first time today, the experience of coming out and living openly is a deeply person journey.

HRC commends Leo Varadkar for having the courage to come out and for serving as an example for many other members of the LGBT community. 

Filed under: Coming Out, International

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