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Leo Varadkar officially becomes Ireland’s first openly gay Prime Minister

By Joshua Haigh

Ireland has officially welcomed its first openly gay Prime Minister following the election of Leo Varadkar as the leader of the country’s main governing party.

A vote in the Dáil (Irish parliament) confirmed today (June 14) that the 38-year-old as the country’s youngest, and first gay, leader.

Mr Varadkar beat his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, in the Fine Gael leadership contest on (June 2) with 60% of the vote. He has made his leadership rival Simon Coveney the deputy leader of the party.

The Fine Gael leader won 57 votes in the Irish parliament against 50 for his nomination as premier. However, 45 members of parliament opted to abstain from the vote.

The former Minister for Social Protection, whose father was an Indian immigrant doctor, came out in 2015 in the run-up to the referendum, making him the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland.

Aged 38, Mr Varadkar is also set to become Ireland’s youngest ever Prime Minister, and first from an ethnic minority background.

His election is further evidence of the social revolution that has taken place in a country that criminalised homosexuality as recently as 1993.

Speaking following his election, Mr Varadkar said he was “honoured” to accept the “enormous challenge” ahead of him.

“If my election shows anything it’s that prejudice has no hold in this Republic,” he said.

“When my father travelled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed his son would grow up to be its leader.”

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