A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs has said that US Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that he hopes to visit Ireland in September. The statement continued, “While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has had contact with the US administration on the proposed visit, it remains unconfirmed.”
This trip would follow on the heels of Trump’s contentious visit in June of this year.
It is no great secret that Pence, an evangelical Christian, has expressed homophobic views in the past and has often stood in opposition to LGBT+ rights. In 2007, Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would have protected LGBT+ people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
In 2010, he opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – the ban on LGBT+ service people in the military – which correlates with a statement on his congressional website which read “homosexuality is incompatible with military service”.
While Governor of Indiana, Pence signed a religious freedoms bill which would allow LGBT+ discrimination. On the website for his congressional campaign in 2000, a section suggested he supported conversion therapy. Karen Pence, his wife, who would presumably accompany him on an Irish visit, teaches at an anti-LGBT+ school which blocks staff from condoning or engaging in “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity” and “transgender identity”.
Pence also spoke at the annual summit of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Centre has listed as a hate group for their anti-LGBT+ stance.
If Pence does visit in September, it remains to be seen whether An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, an openly gay man, will make a similar speech to the one he made during his St Patrick’s Day visit to the US. In the Vice President’s presence, Varadkar told reporters, “I lived in a country where if I’d tried to be myself at the time, it would have ended up breaking laws…I stand here as the leader of my country. Flawed and human, but judged by my political actions, not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender, or religious beliefs.
“We are, after all, all God’s children.”
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