Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has revealed he has been the victim of racism and homophobic abuse.
Speaking in Government Buildings last week, the Taoiseach said he was reluctant to discuss the abuse he suffered but said he had been targeted, the Irish Independent reports.
“If you're mixed race and if you're a person of color, you do experience a degree of racism and discrimination,” he said.
“If you're a gay man or a gay woman you do experience a degree of homophobia. It's just the way it is. I never experienced any violence, thankfully, but it can certainly range from name-calling and things like that as you walk down the street or it can be the kind of stuff you can see for yourself online or it can be just the fact that people treat you differently,” he added.
He also revealed he and his partner, a Dublin doctor, Matt Barrett now live together after moving into the same home in August.
His father, Ashok Varadkar, is from India and his mother, Miriam Howell, comes from Waterford. He and his two sisters Sonia and Sophie grew up in West Dublin.
Varadkar said he was surprised by how many people asked him if he was “going back to India” after it emerged his family would spend some time there over the Christmas break to celebrate his father's 90th birthday, The Irish Sun reports.
“They don't mean it that way but it is a way of thinking,” he said.
“I was born in the Rotunda. I'm not from India. People don't hear what they're saying sometimes but I've also never been somebody who goes on about it,” he added.
The Irish leader previously mentioned incidents of being bullied in school for his background in his biography ‘Leo Varadkar - A Very Modern Taoiseach.’
"It happened so rarely that I can only remember two or three occasions. But the fact that I can remember them speaks for itself," he said.
On Friday, the Taoiseach said: “I’ve done well - I've very little to complain about, much less so than other people who I'm sure have experienced the kind of racism I've never had or have experienced the kind of homophobia I've managed to avoid so I don't like to engage in complaining about it or any self pity because I think that's disrespectful to those who've experienced the kind of racism that I could never imagine."