Ireland’s Minister for Health, Leo Varadker
Ireland’s Minister for Health, Leo Varadker, has become the first openly gay Irish cabinet minister.
Varadker, who is of Indian heritage, came out to the public in an interview on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday.
“I am a gay man, it’s not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know but isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” he said.
“It’s not something that defines me,” he added. “I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”
Varadker, 36, is medical doctor by profession and has been health minister since July 2014.
His coming out was generally well-received and comes ahead of the country voting on the issue of same-sex marriage in May.
“There’s a referendum on marriage equality coming up too, and I just want to be honest with people. I was thinking about the arguments that I might make, and all the arguments that I was going to make were kind of detached,” said Varadker.
“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, and at the moment I’m not,” he explained.
Same-sex civil partnerships have been recognised in Ireland since 2011. According to polls, up to 75% of the Irish people support legalising gay marriage.