Ireland’s openly gay Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and his partner led the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City on Saturday after a visit to the White House and a closed door meeting with Mike Pence.
A Happy #StPatricksDay to all. May the luck of the Irish be with you.
Today as every day, New Yorkers know diversity is our greatest strength.
Proud to march alongside Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. pic.twitter.com/ub4Nx6RxCE
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 17, 2018
“It was a real privilege to march with my partner at this parade in New York. Only a few years ago people couldn’t march under the rainbow banner but that has all changed,” Varadkar said after the parade (above).
Varadkar’s Friday meeting with Mike Pence was closed to the press at Pence’s request. Varadkar had said ahead of the meeting that he planned to address LGBTQ rights with Pence.
Pence also had a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in March 2017 with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister at the time. The difference this year could possibly be Varadkar’s visibility as an openly gay man as well as Pence’s long record of opposing issues important to the gay and lesbian community.
People are speculating whether issues such as gay and lesbian rights and Pence’s stance on gay-conversion therapy might be discussed at their meeting. For instance, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group, sent a tweet questioning the motive for banning the media from the Pence-Varadkar event.
Ahead of his meeting with anti-#LGBTQ Mike Pence, Ireland's openly gay Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he wanted to bring up LGBTQ rights at the meeting.
Today, @mike_pence banned the media from covering the event.
We don't think so. https://t.co/ouJirE7dSL
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 15, 2018
In 2015, Pence signed a law in Indiana that could've allowed businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people, including Irish PM Leo Varadkar. Pence has opposed marriage equality, hate crimes protections & more. Hope media will press him despite being shut out. https://t.co/IaszqybZTj
— Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) March 15, 2018
Varadkar said he was not sure why the meeting was closed to the media but assured the press that a “frank conversation” would be had.
US VICE President Mike Pence told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar his partner Matt Barrett would be welcome in his home should he decide to attend the next year’s St Patrick’s Day visit to the US.
A government source said Mr Varadkar and Mr Pence had a “tête-à-tête” during the official visit. Another source confirmed Mr Varadkar did discuss LGBT rights with Mr Pence and his wife Karen during a discussion in the White House.