It was announced this morning that the media will be invited to the traditional breakfast meeting between the US Vice President and Ireland’s Taoiseach which will take place tomorrow.
Vice President Mike Pence was criticised last year after he excluded representatives from the media from attending his meeting with Leo Varadkar in Washington DC.
In accordance with the head of state’s March visit to the American capital, the Taoiseach typically meets with the Vice President in the morning, before he meets with the President.
Many were disappointed by the US administration’s decision to privatise the meeting, especially as some members of the LGBT+ community were expecting Varadkar – who is openly gay – to challenge Pence on his record for LGBT+ equality.
Throughout his political career, Pence has backed legislation that has restricted the rights of LGBT+ Americans. In 2015 he signed the Indiana Senate Bill which permitted citizens to discriminate against LGBT+ people, if they had ‘religious objections’.
Last year, Varadkar brought up Pence’s history of anti-LGBT+ views and policies:
“I am told Vice President Pence is not a supporter of conversion therapy even though some people have mentioned he is. But I imagine I will have the opportunity, I am going to be meeting him over breakfast on Friday morning, so if I have the opportunity I will certainly be mentioning the wide issue of equal rights and freedoms for LGBT citizens.”
After the meeting, which was not publicised, the Taoiseach claimed that he broached the topic with the Vice President:
“I did privately get to speak to them about equality, and about my support for equal rights for women and the LGBT community in America and Ireland.”
Today marks the start of Varadkar’s March engagements in Washington DC ahead of St Patrick’s Day on Sunday. Over the course of his visit, the Taoiseach will meet with US-based Irish companies, as well as meeting with US President Donald Trump tomorrow afternoon.
Varadkar will then travel to Chicago later this week where he is due to march in the city’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.
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