The Republic of Ireland’s health minister Leo Varadkar has publicly come out as gay.

Leo Varadkar, who turned 36 today, spoke about his sexuality on a radio interview.

“I am a gay man, it’s not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know but isn’t something I’ve spoken publicly about before,” he told RTE Radio One.

The Dubliner said his sexuality did not define him but was just part of his character.

Mr Varadkar said he wanted to be honest with the public ahead of a number of high profile political decisions, such as the referendum on gay marriage later this year.

He insisted his sexual orientation would not dictate his actions in office.

“To me it is not a big deal, I hope it is not a big deal for people,” he told the Miriam O’Callaghan programme.

“There are people a lot braver than me, but I wanted to do it. I suppose I felt as a public figure I should say it.

“I want the next generation to feel that they don’t have to do an interview like this,”