Ireland could make history in late March or April if the country elects Leo Varadkar as its first openly gay prime minister. Varadkar is currently the minister of social protection in the minority government headed by the Fine Gael Party. He was previously the health minister.
The current prime minister is expected to step down as party leader after a visit to the U.S. in mid-March. Varadkar is the leading contender to replace him as both party leader and Taoiseach or prime minister.
Varadkar, 38, is a medical doctor and the son of an Indian father and Irish mother. If elected, he would not only be the first openly LGBTQ prime minister, but also the first ethnic minority head of government of the deeply Catholic country.
If Varadkar is elected, Ireland would become the fourth country to have an openly gay head of government after Belgium, Iceland and Luxembourg.
Ireland held a historic referendum in May 2015 where 62 percent of voters chose marriage equality, making this the first time in the world that marriage equality was achieved through a public vote.
HRC partnered with the YES Equality campaign, a national civil society campaign comprised of GLEN Marriage Equality and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to ensure a “yes” vote on the referendum. It was during the campaign for marriage equality that Varadkar publicly came out as gay.
HRC Global will continue to monitor Varadkar’s race for the prime minister, as the country may soon have the opportunity to make history once more. Learn more about HRC Global’s work here.