Ireland Elects Its First Openly Gay Prime Minister

Ireland Elects Its First Openly Gay Prime Minister

Ireland made history today by electing not only its youngest leader ever but its first openly gay taoiseach (prime minister), Leo Varadkar.

Varadkar, 38, is the son of an Irish nurse and a doctor from India. He beat his rival - Housing Minister Simon Coveney - with 60% of the votes to lead the center-right Fine Gael party.

"If my election shows anything it's that prejudice has no hold in this Republic," Varadkar said in his acceptance speech. "When my father travelled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed his son would grow up to be its leader."

"Any child growing up in Ireland now, I hope, looks at me and my unlikely story and my background," he added, "and everything about me, and perhaps says to themselves, that there is no office in this state that I can't aspire to, nothing that they can't do if they believe in themselves."

"But our job as a party is to make sure that every person in our country actually has those opportunities, because we don't have equality of opportunity in this country, there is great inequality of opportunity in this country, but as a party I want to dedicate ourselves to building a republic of opportunity."

Varadkar, previously in charge of the welfare system, came out as openly gay in 2015 before the same-sex marriage referendum. Ireland has always been historically socially conservative; homosexuality was illegal until 1993.

Togha oibre, Eire.

[h/t BBC]

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