Irish MP insists he was celebrating gay rights in bizarre ‘homophobic’ tweet about Leo Varadkar

Brian Stanley apologises to Leo Varadkar over 'homophobic' tweet

Sinn Féin TD (MP) Brian Stanley refused to apologise for a tweet referencing Leo Varadkar’s sexuality as the former Irish taoiseach highlighted the shocking abuse he gets on social media.

Following Varadkar’s election on 2 June, 2017, Stanley tweeted: “Yippee [for the] tory. It’s Leo. [You] can do what [you] like in bed but don’t look [for] a pay rise the next morning.” The message has been widely condemned as homophobic.

Fine Gael MEP Maria Walsh called on the TD to explain exactly what he meant, and asked why he was connecting Varadkar’s “sexual orientation and his democratically elected position”.

Stanley, 62, stood by the questionable tweet and said no apology was needed. He defended his record with the LGBT+ community and insisted that the “yippee” meant the post was positive.

“It’s great that we have achieved the rights for gay people and yippee to that,” was the point he intended to make, he told told reporters for The Independent.

“What I mean in that tweet was we were trying to push legislation and measures regarding workers rights and minimum wage and living wage.

“The point I was making was it’s great that we have achieved the rights for gay people and for women and yippie for that. But… the missing piece for me was to try and advance the rights of workers and to improve their conditions.”

The confrontation came after Leo Varadkar revealed the sheer scale of homophobic and racist abuse he is targeted with online, predominantly from Sinn Féin voters.

At a private Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday (2 December), Varadkar, who is mixed race, said that of the replies to his social media posts, 10 per cent of them are homophobic and 10 per cent of them are racist.

He said the accounts posting the abuse could be traced back to the same people who, he claimed, are supporters of Sinn Féin.

The party has repeatedly denied claims that it orchestrates supporters to abuse politicians online, and party activists have been repeatedly warned not to send offensive or harassing material.