After 10 years in the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish Parliament, Leo Varadkar made history in June of 2017 when he was elected the first openly gay Irish prime minister, or Taoiseach.
When he won the election, Varadkar -- whose father, Ashok, came to Ireland from India in the 1970s -- also became the first person of Indian descent to hold the office, and at 38, the youngest.
Varadkar has spoken fondly of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, from whom he took over as both prime minister and leader of the Fine Gael party. During Kenny's time in office, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015.
“Enda Kenny's leadership enabled me to become an equal citizen in my own country two short years ago and to aspire to hold this office, an aspiration I once thought was beyond my reach, at least if I chose to be myself," Varadkar said.
Kenny has also spoken fondly of Varadkar.
"As the country's youngest holder of this office, he speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men, he represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other," Kenny told parliament when he nominated Varadkar as his successor.
Prior to becoming prime minister, Varadkar held a number of government positions, including minister for defense; minister for transport, tourism and sport; minister for health; and minister for social protection.
During a radio interview ahead of his June 2017 election, Varadkar discussed the message his election would send to young people in the country.
"If somebody of my age, of my mixed race background and of all the things that make up my character can potentially become leader of our country, then I think that sends out a message to every child born today that there is no office in Ireland that they can't aspire to."
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