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18th Jan 2015

“I am a gay man” Minister for Health Leo Varadkar comes out today

Dublin West TD Leo Varadkar is trending now on twitter after 'coming out'

Sive O'Brien

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan this morning on RTE Radio 1, the Minister for Health has come out publicly saying, “I am a gay man.”

He went on to say that while many who know him or his life in politics might know this about him, it’s not something he has spoken about before.

He has ‘come out’ for “personal reasons” and he is now comfortable talking about his sexuality but that he “wasn’t always”.

With the marriage referendum coming, Mr Varadkar said he “wanted to be honest”. He also stressed there were no hidden agendas on his behalf going into the same-sex marriage referendum set to happen in May this year.

“It’s not something that defines me,” he said. “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”.

“There’s a referendum on marriage equality coming up too, and I just want to be honest with people,” he said. “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 added.

When he told Enda Kenny that he was to come out, Enda said he wouldn’t be commenting; it was his private business, and it wouldn’t concern him.

But hilariously, Mr Varadkar added, “He asked me if I’d ever been to the Panti Bar, and I said actually no, I haven’t, and he said: ‘There you go Varadkar, I’m ahead of you already.”

We think nobody should be defined by their sexuality, and while it shouldn’t change what he does as a minister, nobody can deny this was a brave and honest statement from the Minister today.

And while it might not help the hospital trolley situation that is (still) unfolding, if it helps young gay adults to find the courage to follow suit, then it’s a step in the right mental health direction.

Mr Varadkar added, “it’s not a big deal for me anymore, I hope it’s not a big deal for anyone else, it shouldn’t be.”

Of course, sadly, it is a big deal for lots of gay people and their families in Catholic Ireland today, but we hope this will help and highlight the need for more acceptance.

Go Leo.