US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Ireland in September following an invite from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Pence will be travelling to Ireland on September 6 on behalf of President Donald Trump. The visit will focus on “maintaining peace, prosperity and stability in Ireland by upholding the Good Friday Agreement”, according to a White House Statement.
The @WhiteHouse has issued a statement confirming that @VP Mike Pence will visit Ireland on Friday, September 6th when he will voice the commitment of the US “to maintaining peace, prosperity, and stability in Ireland by upholding the Good Friday Agreement.” @rtenews pic.twitter.com/hI6scPJhpv
— Brian O'Donovan (@BrianOD_News) August 14, 2019
On August 14 2019, the US Department of Labour announced a new ruling which would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT+ people on the grounds of religious freedoms.
In an interview with the Advocate, Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the ruling is an “outrageous action taken by the Trump-Pence administration to undermine the rights of American workers”.
The new ruling will protect U.S businesses with federal government contracts refusing to hire an LGBT+ candidate.
“The Administration’s license to discriminate is cruel, blatantly bigoted and downright dangerous. This hateful rule would greenlight open discrimination against tens of millions of Americans in the workplace, using taxpayer dollars to throw into jeopardy their safety, financial security and well-being,” according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mike Pence has been vocal about his anti-LGBT+ views, previously showing support for conversion therapy and opposing the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’.
In 2019, Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett attended breakfast with Pence as part of the Taoiseach’s annual St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington DC. Varadkar said it was “a very nice gesture”.
The National LGBT Federation (NXF) is also raising concerns about the visit, with its Advocacy & Communications spokesperson Adam Long stating the following:
“Mike Pence has an extremely troubling record when it comes to LGBT+ rights. As Governor of Indiana, he sought to codify discrimination against LGBT+ citizens. As US Vice President, he has played a central role in the Trump Administration’s shameful rolling back of numerous equality regulations.
“These concerns must be raised by the Irish government – who have committed to advocating globally for LGBT+ rights – during his planned visit here”.
Varadkar spoke to reporters on the visit, saying, “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”.
In light of the recent Department of Labour ruling and statistics highlighting the highest level of LGBT+ discrimination in Ireland, the visit will be telling of what the two countries prioritise.
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