Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Took His Same-Sex Partner To Meet Ultra-Conservative VP Mike Pence

Here's a reminder of all the anti-LGBT+ stuff the Vice President has said and done.

It might be all smiles and waves for the cameras when world leaders and their families meet, but behind closed doors it’s another story.

From any spats their two countries might be having, to the endless photo-taking and the simple fact leaders often don’t know each that well, it’s a minefield for potential awkwardness.

But we have a feeling a meeting between Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, his partner Matthew Barrett and the ultra conservative US vice-president Mike Pence – who has repeatedly gone on the record about his anti-LGBT+ stance – could have been more awkward than usual.

Varadkar, Barrett, Pence and his sister Anne met at the vice-president’s home in Washington on Thursday for St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Ahead of the meeting, the taoiseach said he would speak to Pence about social issues, including LGBT+ rights.

Well, Varadkar would certainly have a lot to speak about… Here’s a round-up of just *some* of the anti-LGBT+ things Pence has said and done in the past.

Pence’s Controversial Campaign Website

Vice-president Mike Pence
Vice-president Mike Pence
Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Pence has a pretty long history of saying anti-LGBT+ stuff. Back in 2000, he wrote on his campaign website that resources should be taken away from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus”.

“Resources should be diverted toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” he added.

Pence has since denied that this was a statement in support of gay ‘conversion therapy’.

The Second Lady’s Other Job

Mike Pence and his art teacher wife Karen
Mike Pence and his art teacher wife Karen
Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Pence’s wife Karen – known as America’s ‘second lady’ around the White House – sparked serious controversy in January when she revealed she was returning to her job as an art teacher at an elementary school in Virginia.

Why? The school not only bans LGBT+ teachers from working there, but reserves the right to bar students who participate in, support or condone “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity”.

An employment application unearthed by HuffPost even made potential candidates sign a pledge not to engage in homosexual behaviour or violate the “unique roles of male and female”. Sounds like a welcoming place…

Pence’s Historic Speech

Mike Pence applauds president Donald Trump
Mike Pence applauds president Donald Trump
POOL New / Reuters

In September, Pence became the first vice-president to speak at a conference hosted by the openly homophobic Family Research Council.

The council, which is a Christian activist group, has been labelled an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

An article on the council’s website condemns homosexuality as “harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large”.

“It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.”

Pence followed in the footsteps of Donald Trump, who became the first sitting president to address the council at its annual conference.

Religious Freedom Laws

Varadkar with Pence
Varadkar with Pence
PA Wire/PA Images

In 2015, as the then-governor of Indiana, Pence signed a religious freedom bill that was interpreted by critics as state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT+ people.

Following a huge backlash from business leaders, he later signed a revised version of the bill that clarified businesses could not use the legislation to discriminate based on a customer’s sexual orientation.


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