Leo Varadkar, an openly gay lawmaker and the son of an immigrant from India, is set to become the Republic of Ireland's next Prime Minister after being voted as the leader of the nation's ruling party last Friday.
Aside from being Ireland's first gay Prime Minister, at 38 years old he will also be the country's youngest leader, as well as the first to come from an ethnic minority. He is also set to become Europe's youngest head of government.
After his election as the leader of his party, Fine Gael, Varadkar said that he was delighted, honored and humbled by his victory. Meanwhile outgoing Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave him his approval and said, “This is a tremendous honor for him and I know he will devote his life to improving the lives of people across our country."
Varadkar as Taioseach
Varadkar's position as Taioseach, which is the official title for Ireland's Head of Government will be confirmed later this month when the lower house of the Irish parliament, the Dáil Éireann reconvenes after a break.
He first came out publicly in 2015 during an interview with RTE radio. “It’s not something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician, or a gay politician, for that matter. It’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t define me. It is part of my character I suppose,” Varadkar said. At that time he was serving as the Minister of Health, which also made him Ireland's first gay cabinet minister.
Varadkar's family background
He comes from a family that has produced members in the medical field. His father, Ashok is a doctor who was born in Mumbai, who would later move to England to work. It is there that he met his wife Miranda a nurse from Ireland while they were working in a hospital in Slough. The family would moved to India, then finally settled in Dublin. Leo followed in his father's footsteps to become a medical doctor, and later ventured out to politics at twenty years old when he was a two year medical student. His partner, Matthew Barret is also a doctor.
Varadkar will be the fourth openly elected gay head of government in the world following Iceland's Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who served from 2009 to 2013, Elio Di Rupo who served as Belgium's Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014 and Xavier Bettel who assumed office in December 2013 and is still currently Luxembourg's Prime Minister.