Trump’s gay press aide slammed for claiming Mike Pence isn’t ‘anti-gay’

US president Donald Trump’s gay deputy press secretary says Mike Pence isn’t “anti-gay” because he’s having lunch with Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and his partner, Matthew Barrett.

Varadkar is openly gay, having come out when he was Irish health minister in 2015.

Judd Deere, Trump’s special assistant and deputy press secretary, tweeted on 3 September: “For all of you who still think our VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the Second Lady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

Deere, a gay Republican, often represents Trump on LGBT+ issues. He said in a 1 July interview with BuzzFeed that the president “doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m gay”.

But he added that the president may not actually know how he identifies.

Responding to Deere’s tweet, one Twitter user said: “This may be the dumbest tweet out of an already incredibly pathetic comms office.”

“Yeah, where would anyone get the idea that Mike Pence is anti-gay? Other than his lifelong career of supporting discrimination against LGBT folks?” said another.

“Are you kidding me? He’s the VP of the US and he is going to deign to lunch with the Taoiseach (PM) of Ireland even though he’s gay? How very noble of him. This is satire, isn’t it?” another said.

Pence flew into Ireland on 2 September – his first official visit to the country as vice president – and was immediately condemned by LGBT+ activists and human-rights campaigners.