Son of Indian doctor becomes first openly gay Irish Prime Minister

Leo Varadkar, 38, the son of an Indian doctor and Irish nurse, yesterday took charge as Ireland’s youngest and first openly gay Prime Minister.

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar. Photo courtesy: Twitter

​Varadkar officially took over as Taoiseach, as the Irish prime ministerial title is known in Ireland, after a parliamentary vote confirmed him as the leader by 57 votes to 50, with 47 abstentions.

The former general physician won the Fine Gael party leadership earlier this month. He has made his leadership rival Simon Coveney the deputy leader of the party.

After the win, Varadkar had said, “If my election shows anything, it’s that prejudice has no hold in this Republic.”

“When my father travelled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed his son would grow up to be its leader,” he said.

Addressing the Dail (Irish parliament), after his election, Varadkar said, "I've been elected to lead but I promise to serve."

"The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions don't comprehend the political challenges of today. The government I lead will be one of the new European centre as we seek to build a republic of opportunity," Varadkar asserted.

He then travelled to the president's residence, Aras an Uachtarain, where President Michael D Higgins gave him the seals of office to officially confirm his appointment. 

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominated Varadkar to succeed him at the start of today's Dail proceedings.

"He (Varadkar) represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other, an Ireland in which each person can fulfil their potential and live their dreams," Kenny said. 

Varadkar had served as Ireland's welfare minister and had emerged as the most popular choice since he announced his candidacy after Kenny stepped down as prime minister earlier this year. 

His family originates from Varad, a village in Gujarat, and Leo Varadkar kept his Indian connect alive, completing an internship at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. His partner, Matthew Barrett, is also a doctor.