Vice President Mike Pence had breakfast with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Friday, but unlike his meeting with the previous prime minister, this event was scheduled behind closed doors.
One key difference between the two Irish officials? Varadkar is gay.
Pence also had a St. Patrick's Day breakfast in March 2017 with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister at the time. The difference this year could possibly be Varadkar's visibility as an openly gay man as well as Pence's long record of opposing issues important to the gay and lesbian community.
People are speculating whether issues such as gay and lesbian rights and Pence's stance on gay-conversion therapy might be discussed at their meeting. For instance, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group, sent a tweet questioning the motive for banning the media from the Pence-Varadkar event.
In a statement Thursday, Pence's press secretary, Alyssa Farah, indicated the vice president requested the private meeting:
"The Vice President and the Prime Minister met and spoke together at multiple events today. Tomorrow’s informal breakfast is setup like every breakfast the Vice President has had with a foreign leader following their meetings at the White House.
"The press will be in attendance to cover the Prime Minister’s arrival and the Vice President greeting him.”
According to the Irish Examiner, Varadkar said he would have preferred that the meeting be public; he also told The Journal.ie he anticipates having the opportunity for frank discussion on gay rights issues with the vice president.
“I am told Vice President Pence is not a supporter of conversion therapy even though some people have mentioned he is," Varadkar said, according to TheJournal.ie. "But I imagine I will have the opportunity, I am going to be meeting him over breakfast on Friday morning, so if I have the opportunity I will certainly be mentioning the wider issue of equal rights and freedoms for LGBT citizens.”