Taoiseach plans to challenge Abbas on lack of gay rights in Gaza
Ireland should raise human rights violations in Palestinian, Hamas-controlled areas, says Varadkar
Leo Varadkar will use the opportunity to raise other concerns about democracy and human rights in the Palestinian territories. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will challenge president of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas about the decriminalisation of homosexuality if he meets him on his visit to Ireland.
Mr Varadkar said it was important for Ireland to support Palestinian demands for self determination.
But he said it was also important “that we are not afraid to raise serious issues concerning the violation of human rights in the territories that are controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas”.
Mr Abbas has been invited to Ireland by Tánaiste Simon Coveney and will arrive in Ireland at the weekend ahead of a UN assembly meeting in New York.
The Palestinian president will meet President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin and will have talks with the Tánaiste.
Mr Varadkar said they were working on the schedule and “if I have the opportunity to meet President Abbas myself I will do so” and he would re-affirm Ireland’s support for a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.
“An agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to bring that about has not yet happened.”
He added: “I will also use the opportunity to raise other concerns about democracy and human rights in the Palestinian territories, in particular for example the fact that homosexuality has yet to be decriminalised in Gaza.”
Mr Abbas’s visit to Ireland was described as historic by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who said it was time for the State to officially recognise the state of Palestine and reflect the decision of the Dáil in 2014 which accepted a Sinn Féin motion on the issue. The Seanad also supported state recognition and Ms McDonald said it was necessary “in international terms”.
Mr Varadkar told her that “the programme for Government says that we support the Palestinian state – and we do – and that we intend to recognise the state of Palestine as part of a two-state solution.”
Sweden and Cyprus are the only EU member states which have to date officially recognised the Palestinian state.
*This article was amended on September 19th