Ireland’s first gay leader will struggle more with Brexit than bigotry


“VARAD the impaler”, “Leo the Lion”, “Gob Almighty”. Any self-respecting Irish politician acquires a range of colourful nicknames, and those attaching to Leo Varadkar, whom parliament will, barring disasters, elevate to prime minister on June 13th, are nothing unusual. If none of them refers to the attributes that have earned Mr Varadkar global attention—that he is half-Indian, gay and, at 38, his country’s youngest-ever leader—that is testament to a society that has lost interest in the bigotries that marked public life in the not-too-distant past.

“Prejudice has no hold in this republic,” declared Mr Varadkar to a rapturous crowd at Dublin’s Mansion House on June 2nd, after winning the leadership of Ireland’s ruling, centre-right Fine Gael party. His rousing words satisfied outsiders seeking a good yarn about a country that decriminalised homosexuality only in 1993, but were atypical for a man who has been reluctant to use his minority status to advance his…Continue reading



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