Ireland’s 14th Taoiseach (Prime Minster), Leo Varadkar, is one of the few out leaders of a nation and he doesn’t shy away from it. While many gay and lesbian American politicians have tried to convince the electorate that their sexuality won’t affect their vote on issues, Varadkar is about to rock the biggest boat in the predominantly Catholic country.
During Pope Francis’ upcoming visit, Varadkhar will address the church’s stance on LGBTQ people in general – and same-sex marriage specifically.
And he’s not the only politician who plans on bending the pontiff’s ear about the subject.
The Pope will visit Ireland to attend the World Meeting of Families, but LGBTQ families have been specifically ignored during the event. Asked how he would address the lack of inclusion with the pontiff, Varadkar didn’t hold back.
He said he would pointedly clarify “our view as a society and as a government that families come in all sorts of different forms and that includes families led by same-sex parents.”
“I’m not sure exactly what the detail of my interaction with him is going to be,” Varadkar said at a media briefing according to Irish Central. “[The reception at] Dublin Castle may be very short but, first of all, I will want to welcome him to Ireland and, if the opportunity arises, I will certainly want to express to him the real concerns Irish people have in relation to the legacy of the past, in relation to issues such as the church’s involvement in Magdalene laundries, mother-and-baby homes, and sexual and physical abuse.”
Other Irish government leaders have also said they plan to bring up the subject of LGBTQ families during the Pope’s visit. Katherine Zappone, the minister for children and youth affairs, and Josepha Madigan, the culture minister, have pointed inquires for the pontiff.
Former Irish president Mary McAleese, a vocal LGBTQ advocate who has a gay son, has been invited, but banned from speaking. Officials are afraid “her outspoken views” would cause trouble during the official visit.
With 3.7 million members, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in Ireland.