Taoiseach Leo Varadkar began his Saint Patrick’s Day trip to the US in Texas before official March 17 events in Washington D.C. and New York.
Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has stated that he plans to question US Vice President Mike Pence on LGBT rights when the pair meets on Friday as part of the Taoiseach’s Saint Patrick’s Day trip to the US.
Varadkar, the first openly gay leader of Ireland, had met with conservative Texan governor Gregg Abbott on Friday but admitted that he did not use his time with the governor to try and change his mind on gay and lesbian rights.
He does intend to bring it up to Pence, however. The Taoiseach will also be including a visit to the site in Manhattan where the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment in the gay movement, took place when he travels to New York later in the week.
“We’ve always seen America as a beacon of freedom. This is the land of the free, the home of the brave, this is where the gay rights movement began,” Varadkar said at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, where he was speaking on the first day of his trip on Sunday.
“It’s really tough to see a country built on freedom, build on individual freedom, not being a world leader in that space anymore. I think the majority of American people would agree with what I have to say, even if the administration doesn’t.”
While VP Pence speaks often of his Irish roots and his Irish grandfather, in particular, he is strongly in opposition to gay marriage and claims that to be gay is a “choice.” Varadkar claims he will question these beliefs when he meets with Pence at his home in the Naval Observatory in Washington on Friday morning, while also raising the issue of immigration with Donald Trump when the shamrock ceremony takes place in the White House on Thursday.
“It’s for each country to make its own choices on migration. I’m in the White House at President Trump’s invitation. I’m not going there to lecture him on American immigration policy,” Varadkar said.
“I now live in a country where 17 percent of the population was not born in Ireland and we’re all the better for it.
“It’s a huge bonus for a country to have young people with talent and ability come to your country and bring those skills with them.”
Do you think that Varadkar should discuss LGBT rights and immigration during his meetings with the US President and Vice President? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.