St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, which means it’s time for a celebration of all things Irish. A more unconventional reason to celebrate Ireland is the progress the country has made on LGBTQ rights.
Homosexuality was illegal there until 1993. But in 2015, Irish citizens voted to legalize gay marriage by a two-to-one margin and in 2017, they made a gay man their Prime Minister.
Vice President Mike Pence- notorious for his homophobia- hosted the Irish PM, Leo Varadkar, this morning. Varadkar attended the reception with his boyfriend, Matthew Barret.
Pence has a long list of homophobic quotes and actions. Just a few examples: as Indiana governor, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to refuse service to gay customers. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, then-Governor Pence advocated a constitutional amendment that would have limited the definition of marriage to include only heterosexual couples.
Pence has also supported conversion therapy for minors. This is the process by which gay or bisexual children are emotionally abused- and sometimes physically abused- in the hopes of making them heterosexual. It does not work, there is no need for it to work, and these kids often suffer mental health problems for years after, including attempted or completed suicide.
Lastly, Mike Pence also supported maintaining “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the policy which forced gay soldiers to hide their sexuality if they wanted to serve in the military. “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service,” he said.
However, when Leo Varadkar arrived in DC, his reception was, per the Prime Minister himself, “Really warm.” He and Barrett took a few pictures with Pence and his sister, then the PM delivered remarks, ranging from thanking Pence for the invitation to being “fascinated” by American politics.
Varadkar went on to laud the progress his nation has made on gay rights, “I lived in a country where, if I’d tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws. But today, that is all changed. I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs. And I don’t believe that my country is the only one in the world where this is possible.”
Pence was very gracious throughout- thanking Varadkar and even his partner for attending. Mike we hardly knew ye. Maybe one day, you will extend that courtesy to your fellow Americans.