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Leo Varadkar ‘worried’ about homophobia and transphobia

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said he is worried about homophobia and transphobia.

Mr Varadkar made the remarks during a meeting with the Capital Pride Alliance in Washington DC.

The group, which will host World Pride in the city next year, said he had played a strong leadership role in LGBT rights internationally.

Mr Varadkar, who announced he was gay in 2015, the first time a serving minister did so in Ireland, discussed Ireland’s passing of a constitutional amendment through a referendum which extended marriage equality to same-sex couples.

He also said there was legislation allowing transexual people to assign their own gender by choice.

However, he added: “But a bit like the rest of the world, there’s been a bit of a backlash to that in the last couple of years.

“I think there’s been an increase in violence towards the community and, sort of, starting to become acceptable again to be homophobic or transphobic, in particular.

“And I worry about that.”

Taoiseach visit to the US
Irish ambassador to the US Geraldine Byrne Nason, US Chamber of Commerce president Suzanne Clark, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Patricia Clark at an event marking US-Irish relations (Cillian Sherlock/PA)

During the meeting, Mr Varadkar and Irish ambassador to the US Geraldine Byrne Nason also discussed Ireland’s work with South Africa on LGBT rights at the UN.

The Taoiseach also noted anti-LGBT messaging of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia.

Shua Goodwin, board member of Capital Pride Alliance, said that there has been progress on LGBT rights, there are also people “who want to hold onto the past” with transphobia and homophobia.

Speaking to the PA news agency after the meeting with Mr Varadkar, Mr Goodwin said: “There’s a way to counteract that, to say that’s not normal just because it seems to be happening more and more.”

He said homophobia and transphobia could also be countered by letting LGBT people know they will continue to be supported.

“That’s just safe for everyone because we know when the most marginalised groups are insecure and unsafe, that’s going to go across all lines of folks – no matter what their religious belief, race, sexual orientation.

“I think him really focusing on that has that’s why him raising that was fantastic.”

Mr Goodwin said the group invited Mr Varadkar because he, and the country of Ireland, had “done such a fantastic job” on human rights internationally.