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'Worse than losing my seat': Leo would be absolutely devastated with a No vote

The Health Minister, who came out publicly in January, helped launch Fine Gael’s referendum campaign today.

Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael campaign launch today.
Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael campaign launch today.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

LEO VARADKAR HAS said that a No vote in the forthcoming same-sex marriage referendum would be a worse feeling than losing an election or his seat in Dublin West.

The Health Minister, who is the first openly gay cabinet member, made an impassioned call for a Yes vote as Fine Gael launched its referendum campaign in Dublin today.

The party is planning to erect 10,000 posters across the country as part of a €150,000 campaign.

Varadkar said that defeat in the 22 May referendum would be a worse feeling than if he were to lose his seat in the general election next year.

He said that he initially did not feel as passionate about a Yes vote as he does know, admitting it was likely because he is not in a long-term relationship so”it’s not something that effects me personally or directly, or at least not yet”.

But, he added: “I do know that if this referendum is defeated when the votes are counted on May 23rd, I’ll be absolutely devastated. It will be worse than losing an election or even losing my seat.”

Varadkar said that a No vote would “essentially be the majority deciding that a minority in this country doesn’t have the right to be equal and are not equal”.

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He continued: “It says that we’re good enough to be government ministers, to educate children, to nurse the sick, to sit in judgement of other people in the courts, but not good enough to marry the man or woman that we love.

I think that would make it very difficult for people who are not out yet to come out. I think it would make it extremely difficult for young people who are grappling with their sexuality.

“I think it will make it very difficult for the very many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens who live abroad or felt they had to go abroad, who are now, perhaps, thinking of coming home. I think it would make them think twice and would make it very difficult for them to decide to resume their lives here in Ireland.”

The launch today was attended by a number of senior Fine Gael ministers, TDs and the Taoiseach. In his speech, Enda Kenny detailed his own personal journey on the issue of same-sex marriage.

“It is an equality in marriage that I believe will greatly enrich our society. It is an equality in marriage that I believe will mark our development in becoming a true and a real Republic,” he said.

The launch also heard from Edel Tierney, a gay woman and member of Fine Gael LGBT, and Enda Morgan, whose daughter is in a same-sex relationship.

Read: Enda has pretty much ruled out a live TV debate with the No side

Read: ‘There isn’t a celebrity in the country who would dare come out and say they’re voting No’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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