Ireland’s Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, has come out as gay.

Ireland is set to vote this spring on proposals to introduce same-sex marriage, with the majority of nearly every age group and every major political party in favour of the measure.

Mr Varadkar, a Fine Gael politician, came out this morning – saying that he did not want to be seen as having a “hidden agenda” ahead of potential ministerial decisions on marriage and the gay blood ban.

The Minister told RTE: “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.

“It’s not something that defines me. 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.

“I’m comfortable to talk about it now, but I haven’t always been. It’s not a big deal for me anymore. I hope it’s not a big deal for anyone else.

“My mum was concerned I would be beat up on the street, or that I’d lose my seat, or that people would use it against me in politics.

“I am now the Minister for Health. There are decisions coming up that are not entirely my own, but I will be involved in them. We’ve legislation coming forward this year about whether or not we lift the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

“I want people to know that whatever decisions are made on any issue, I’ll make them according to what I believe is public interest. I won’t be allowing my own background or sexual orientation to dictate the decisions that I make.”

Mr Varadkar is not to be confused with Northern Ireland’s current Health minister, DUP politician Jim Wells.

Mr Wells previously claimed that gay pride was “repugnant”, and blocked PinkNews on Twitter after we reported on his views.