Ireland’s Taioseach Leo Varadkar took his boyfriend along for a meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence.

The out Irish leader, who is on a visit to Washington, DC, met with Pence for breakfast on Thursday (March 14).



Leo Varadkar brought partner Matt Barrett to breakfast with Mike Pence

Varadkar did not go alone, bringing his partner Dr Matt Barrett to the breakfast meeting at the vice president’s official residence, Number One Observatory Circle.

Barrett, who works as a cardiologist, does not frequently accompany Varadkar on foreign trips, but made an exception for the visit.

Speaking to the media, Varadkar said: “I stand here this morning as leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, my gender or religious beliefs.

“And I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible. It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished.

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“We are after all, all god’s children. That’s true of the United States as well, the land and home of the brave and free.”

Varadkar, who is one of the few openly gay world leaders, also thanked Pence for his “wonderful hospitality.”

He tweeted: “Vice President Mike Pence invited me and Matt to his home at the Naval Observatory this morning. It’s great to be back here for a really warm reception.”

Mike Pence has ‘extreme’ anti-LGBT record

The Irish leader’s comments about sexual orientation come despite Pence’s extensive anti-LGBT record.

In 2000, Pence published an election manifesto calling for HIV/AIDS prevention funding to be drained from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” an apparent reference to LGBT+ inclusive groups.

Pence instead called for funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” which has since led to accusations he was endorsing conversion therapy.

US Vice President Mike Pence, who was criticised by gay Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty)

While Pence served as Governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017, his cuts to HIV testing and ban on needle exchanges led to the worst outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the state’s history, sparking an intervention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in anti-LGBT actions by the Trump administration.

The Human Rights Campaign report looked in-depth at Pence’s record on LGBT rights as a candidate, as Governor of Indiana and as vice president, and found he has demonstrated a “consistent” approach to dismantling protections for LGBT+ people.




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