Leo Varadkar, a senior cabinet minister in Ireland, has come out gay.

Health Minister Varadkar made his announcement Sunday on state radio, making him Ireland's first openly gay high-level government official.

“I am a gay man,” he told RTE Radio 1. “It's not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know but isn't something I've spoken publicly about before.”

“It's not something that defines me. I'm not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It's just part of who I am, it doesn't define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”

Varadkar, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Sunday, said he wanted to publicly discuss his sexuality ahead of a May referendum on whether to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

“There's a referendum on marriage equality coming up too, and I just want to be honest with people. I was thinking about the arguments that I might make, and all the arguments that I was going to make were kind of detached.”

“What I really want to say is that I'd like the referendum to pass because I'd like to be an equal citizen in my country, the country in which I happen to be a member of Government, and at the moment I'm not,” he said.