Ireland ‘should confront’ President Trump on LGBT rights, minister says

An Irish government minister has said his government should press the United States over attempts to pare back LGBT rights.

In one of his only direct policy commitments, President Trump has pledged to sign the First Amendment Defence Act, which would permit anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.

His press secretary Sean Spicer left the door open this week for plans to roll back Obama’s executive protections for LGBT people, refusing to answer a question on the issue.

Speaking to The Times, Irish government minister Leo Varadkar said the Irish government should press the US to keep its leading role in defending LGBT rights around the world.

Minister for Social Protection Mr Varadkar, who is openly gay, said: “I’m very concerned at the new administration’s attitude”.

Citing the anti-LGBT views of new Vice President Mike Pence, he said: ““I don’t agree in any way with his comments in the past on conversion therapy or the views he’s expressed on equality issues in general.

“In many ways [German chancellor] Angela Merkel described it very well.

“She said we will engage and try to engage positively with the new administration but not to the extent that it compromises our values.

“I think that’s the basis on which we need to approach the new administration.”

Ms Merkel had delivered a barbed welcome to Mr Trump when he was elected.

She broke with convention to issue an apparent warning to President-elect Trump, laying out the terms of his relationship with Germany.

The German leader said: “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.

“I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”