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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
# marriage ref
Leo: People have offered to pray for me and save my soul
The health minister isn’t too bothered though.

LEO VARADKAR HAS said he receives some hate mail, but not too much about the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum.

The health minister said most of the angry letters he receives are to do with other issues such as water charges.

“I get a bit of hate mail, but it’s usually about Irish Water or something like that. I haven’t got much about the referendum yet.

“I’ve had a few people sending me letters offering prayers for me and to save my soul and things like that. From a positive point of view, I haven’t had anything that I found aggressive.”

Varadkar added that he has received a few wedding invitations, but no marriage proposals in the post.

He was speaking at the ‘Yes for Health’ launch where groups representing health professionals such as doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists called for a Yes vote on 22 May.

Varadkar said most health workers support the referendum because they “want people to feel equal and valued in the workforce”.

He noted that married gay couples coming to Ireland from the US or UK would think twice about moving here as their marriages are not currently recognised.

The health minister said a No vote would also have an adverse affect on people’s mental health, stating it would “set a lot of people backwards in terms of their own journeys”.

‘Weapons’

When asked if he agreed with former justice minister Alan Shatter and Tánaiste Joan Burton who said the No side is using children as weapons, Varadkar said he didn’t want to use any “inflammatory language”.

He noted the campaign has been “very respectful” to date and said he hopes it will stay that way, adding people “need to respect people’s opinions even if they don’t agree with you on this issue”.

023 Medical staff for YES copy graphy: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland Today's launch graphy: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Varadkar said it was important to point out that the referendum is about equal access to marriage, adding that children or surrogacy are “not directly pertinent” to the vote.

He said the vast majority of people who avail of surrogacy, IVF and assisted human reproduction are straight couples, stating: “That will continue to be the case.”

In relation to Catholic priests not yet deciding if they will could continue to carry out the civil element of marriage if the referendum is passed, Varadkar said it is “their own prerogative to make their own rules”.

He noted that since the divorce referendum was passed 19 years ago “nobody has forced the Catholic church or any church to remarry people in the church against their own doctrine”.

Originally published: 16.55

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