Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has spoken about an increase in anti-LGBT sentiment since Ireland’s marriage equality vote in 2015.
Varadkar, who is in a long-term relationship with his partner, fellow doctor Matt Barrett, also spoke about homophobic threats in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Times.
He admitted that from the high of the marriage equality vote in 2015, which he described as “one of the best days of my life and one of the best days of my life in politics,” it did not feel like things had improved for the LGBT community.
He said, “There has definitely been an increase in anti-LGBT sentiment. And I think trans people in particular are being targeted because people who hate always target the most vulnerable.
“We have certainly seen an increase in violent attacks on LGBT people and increased reports to the gardai, but that’s why Pride is so important. It’s not just a celebration, it’s a protest. By going out in the streets, saying that we are proud of who we are, we’re not going to let anyone make us feel ashamed again, or go back behind closed doors or curtains again, and that’s really important. Very important, I think, for young people to see that, young LGBT people see that.”
Varadkar said he had not experienced violence. He had experienced threats in the streets, but it was not something he wanted to complain about.
“While I have experienced homophobia and racism, I’m also someone who has enormous privileges and opportunities in my life,” he said.
Huge turnout for the Dublin Pride Run in the Phoenix Park this evening despite the rain. Well done to @DFRclub for a great event raising funds for the @HIVIreland, @ShoutOut_IE & @TransEqTogether. pic.twitter.com/k56YmfHJkD— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) June 16, 2023
Varadkar was interviewed as the latest Sunday Times poll showed a jump in support of three percentage points for Fine Gael, rising to 20 percent from 17 percent in May and a low in April of 15 percent.
The same poll put Sinn Féin at the top, dropping one point from 35 percent to 34 percent. Fianna Fáil's level of support remained pretty stable, falling just one point to 21 percent.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald remained the most popular leader, gaining three points to 51 percent from the previous poll.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had 47 percent, and Varadkar’s satisfaction level was at 36 percent.
The 40th annual Dublin Pride Parade will take place this Saturday, June 24. There are also a number of other parades and festivals around Ireland marking Pride month.