A First for Ireland: Gay Prime Minister

At age 38, Leo Varadkar will also be the country's youngest ever prime minister
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2017 8:20 AM CDT
Leo Varadkar celebrates as he's named as Ireland's next prime minister in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday.   (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)

(Newser) – He's the son of an Indian immigrant, he's gay, and he's about to become Ireland's next prime minister. Per the BBC and the Guardian, Leo Varadkar will become the nation's first gay taoiseach, or head of government, as well as the country's youngest ever PM at the age of 38, after he was voted in as head of the government's leading Fine Gael party on Friday. Varadkar took in 60% of the votes over his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, to earn the right to take over for outgoing PM Enda Kenny, who announced he was leaving his post last month. "If my election shows anything, it's that prejudice has no hold in this republic," Varadkar said after his victory was announced Friday evening.

Varadkar's father, a doctor from Mumbai, met his mother, an Irish nurse, when they both worked at an English hospital in the '60s. That gives Varadkar, also a doctor, yet another first: the first prime minister to come from an ethnic minority background. He came out as gay in 2015, but while his status as the first gay PM is making headlines, gay rights groups are pleased that most of the attention he received during the campaign was mainly focused on his platforms. "It's really significant that both his party and the media in Ireland focused on his policies, rather than him simply being a gay man who wants to lead the country," the editor of Dublin's Gay Community News tells the Guardian. Varadkar will be officially confirmed as prime minister later in June when Parliament comes back into session after a break. (What will Brexit ultimately mean for Ireland?)

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