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Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar believes US no longer leader in LGBTI rights

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar believes US no longer leader in LGBTI rights

Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland

The openly gay prime minister of Ireland says the United States is no longer a world leader in LGBTI rights.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar believes a majority of people in America would likely agree with him, even if the Trump administration does not.

The Daily Mail reported Varadkar made those comments during an interview at the annual South by Southwest music and film festival held in Austin, Texas.

Varadkar is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday and intends to raise the issue of gay rights during that meeting, the Daily Mail reported.

However, the Irish Times, which also reported this story, said that Varadkar would be meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump. That meeting with Pence is scheduled for Friday, the Irish Times said.

Whichever leader Varadkar meets with, he is determined to discuss the issue of LGBTI rights, even though neither Trump nor Pence is viewed as being especially gay friendly.

‘What I intend to say is that for the vast majority of people around the world, including people from gay-lesbian-transgender backgrounds, we have always seen America as a beacon of freedom,’ Varadkar said.

He added that America is where the LGBTI rights movement began.

‘It’s really tough to see a country built on freedom, build on individual freedom, not being a world leader in that space anymore,’ Varadkar said. ‘I think the majority of American people would agree with what I have to say, even if the administration doesn’t.’

Varadkar said he hopes the U.S. will once again take leadership soon.

Varadkar began the first openly gay prime minister in Ireland when he was elected to office in June 2017.

He is the fourth openly gay person in the world to become a head of government, following Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir in Iceland (2009-2013), Elio Di Rupo in Belgium (2011-2014) and Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg (2013-present).