Saturday 16 December 2017

'Significant step for equality'- the world reacts to Leo Varadkar becoming the new Fine Gael leader

Leo Varadkar with his parents Ashok and Miriam
Leo Varadkar with his parents Ashok and Miriam
Leo Varadkar at his ‘Taking Fine Gael Forward’ party policy paper launch in Dublin . Photo: Tom Burke
Leo Varadkar at the Mansion House minutes after being elected the new leader of Fine Gael
Leo Varadkar arriving at the Mansion House this evening (Image: Mark Condren)
Simon Coveney minutes after Leo Varadkar was announced as the new Fine Gael leader
Leo Varadkar at the Mansion House minutes after being elected the new leader of Fine Gael
Leo Varadkar at the Mansion House minutes after being elected the new leader of Fine Gael
Simon Coveney TD with his wife Ruth during the Fine Gael Leadership Election at the Mansion House, Dublin
Simon Coveney embraces Leo Varadkar at the Mansion House, Dublin
Simon Harris TD at the Mansion House, Dublin
Leo Varadkar Photo: James Connolly

Kathy Armstrong

Leo Varadkar represents "liberalisation" in Ireland and his election as the new Fine Gael leader is a "significant step forward for equality" - these are just some of the reactions from international news agencies.

As Varadkar beat rival Simon Coveney to head the party, the world's media wasted no time responding to the news.

The Guardian said: "The son of an Indian immigrant who came out as gay in 2015 will be the next Irish prime minister, after he was voted leader of the country’s main governing party on Friday.

"Leo Varadkar’s victory in the Fine Gael leadership contest, which took place after outgoing PM Enda Kenny announced his resignation last month, marks another significant step forward for equality in the country, after 2015’s gay marriage referendum.

"As well as becoming Ireland’s first gay prime minister, Varadkar, 38, will also become the country’s youngest leader, and the first from an ethnic minority background.

"His position will be confirmed later this month when parliament resumes after a break."

David Norris, Averil Power, Leo Varadkar, and Colm O'Gorman pictured at the Yes vote announcement in Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15
David Norris, Averil Power, Leo Varadkar, and Colm O'Gorman pictured at the Yes vote announcement in Dublin Castle. Picture; GERRY MOONEY. 23/5/15

Read More: Analysis: Abandoned Coveney is bruised today, but his time may yet come

BBC News also described his election as a progressive move.

They said: "He has come to personify the liberalisation of a country which was once regarded as one of Europe's most socially conservative nations - homosexuality was illegal until 1993."


ITV echoed these sentiments as they said Varadkar is placed as the best figure to take the party into the next election.

They said: "Many in the party believe the Dublin-born-and-raised Mr Varadkar is representative of an urban, progressive generation that can help sell the party to the wider electorate at the next election.

"Although he had rallied for the change in marriage law in public, he remains otherwise private about his personal life, though he is known to have been in a relationship with another medic for two years."

Read More: Twelve quotes that tell you all you need to know about Leo Varadkar

BBC did note that some of his policies as Social Protection Minister have proven controversial.

They said: "Mr Varadkar has come under criticism for his comments on progressive issues and workers' rights."

Meanwhile, in India there has also been widespread coverage of Mr Varadkar's election as party leader.

The Times of India reports:

"Ireland's governing Fine Gael party elected Leo Varadkar as its new leader on Friday, choosing the gay, 38-year-old son of an Indian immigrant to succeed Enda Kenny as prime minister in a striking sign of the country's rapid social change."

In the United States the New York Times is also reporting on the new Fine Gael leader running an article entytitled: Gay Lawmaker, Leo Varadkar, Is in Line to Be Ireland’s Prime Minister

The paper reports his election in the context that Ireland is a "country that has rapidly been leaving its conservative Roman Catholic social traditions behind".

Broadcaster CNN is also reporting the news and focusing on the fact that Mr Varadkar is gay, running the following headline: Ireland's next prime minister is a conservative, gay 38-year-old.

"Varadkar might seem to be an unexpected pick for leader of Ireland -- a country that's still finding its secular European footing after years of church influence over the state. But Varadkar's policies signal a sharp move towards the right," Kara Fox writes.

Online Editors

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