Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar ‘thankful’ to have had few experiences of racism or homophobia

The Taoiseach said he has much less to complain about than many other people.

Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Taoiseach says he considers himself fortunate that he has few experiences of racism or homophobia.

Leo Varadkar, speaking at his winter briefing with the media in Dublin, was asked to detail some of his experiences as a person of colour.

His father Ashok was born in Mumbai, India, and moved to Ireland in the 1970s.

The Taoiseach, who is notably private about his personal and family life, refused to be drawn about his own experiences of racism.

“If you’re mixed race and if you’re a person of colour you do experience a degree of racism and discrimination,” he said.

I've a good life. I've done well. I've very little to complain about, much less so than other people Leo Varadkar

He disclosed his sexual orientation on national radio during Ireland’s equal marriage referendum in 2015, and now lives with his partner Matt Barrett.

“If you’re a gay man or a gay woman you do experience a degree of homophobia. It’s just the way it is,” he added.

“I never experienced any violence, thankfully, but it can certainly range from name-calling and things like that as you walk down the street, or it can be the kind of stuff you can see for yourself online, or it can be just the fact that people treat you differently – little things.

“You’d be surprised the amount of people in the last couple of days who’ve heard I’m visiting India with my family, and have asked me when am I going back to India.

“They don’t mean it that way but it is a way of thinking.

“I was born in the Rotunda, I’m not from India.

“People don’t hear what they’re saying sometimes but I’ve also never been somebody who goes on about it.

“I’ve a good life. I’ve done well. I’ve very little to complain about, much less so than other people.

“I’ve never had or have experienced that kind of homophobia. I’ve managed to avoid it so I don’t like to engage in complaining about it or any self-pity because I think that’s disrespectful to those who’ve experienced the kind of racism that I could never imagine.”

PA

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