Ireland’s first out gay taoiseach Leo Varadkar officially resigns

Ireland's first out gay taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar has stated he has “no regrets” about stepping down, as the out gay politician officially resigns as Ireland’s taoiseach. 

The Dublin politician, who announced last month he was standing down from the position and resigning as Fine Gael party leader, has now said he is looking forward to a “different chapter”. 

The 45-year-old is the youngest and first out gay person to serve as taoiseach, first holding the title between 2017 and 2020, and again since 2022. He has been with his partner, Dr Matthew Barrett, since 2015, the same year he came out as gay.

Leo Varadkar reportedly handed his letter of resignation to Irish president Michael D Higgins on Monday (8 April), and will remain taoiseach in a caretaker capacity until a new leader is voted in.

The new leader of Fine Gael, 37-year-old Simon Harris, is expected to be appointed the next taoiseach of Ireland – the youngest in the country’s history – on Tuesday (9 April).

In an interview with RTÉ News, Varadkar explained: “It was a difficult decision to make and difficult to go through with on the day but certainly since then I’ve had no regrets and am looking forward to a different chapter in my life.”

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He added that he had “oscillated” on the decision on “a few occasions”, but felt “pretty good” as he stepped down.

Leo Varadkar (CR) joins members of the LGBT+ community at Belfast Pride in 2019.
Leo Varadkar (CR) joins members of the LGBTQ+ community at Belfast Pride in 2019 (Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images)

Announcing he was stepping down taoiseach in March, Leo Varadkar described his leadership as “the most fulfilling time of my life”.

He cited “personal and political” reasons for stepping back from his role, explaining in a statement that “one part of leadership is knowing when the time has come to pass on the baton to somebody else”. 

During the press conference, he cited victories on LGBTQ+ equality and abortion as his proudest moments, stating that the country is a “more equal and more modern place when it comes to the rights of children, the LGBT community, equality for women and their bodily autonomy”.

As Varadkar announced he was stepping down, British prime minister Rishi Sunak thanked the Irish leader for his “dedicated service over the years”.

“My best wishes to him in the future and I look forward to working with his successor,” he said.

Scotland’s leader Humza Yousaf also sent the taoiseach his “best for the future”.

“I am grateful to the Taoiseach… for his commitment to strengthening the bonds of friendship between Ireland and Scotland. I am also grateful for his strong global leadership in calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” Yousaf wrote.