Ireland has voted YES. LGBT rights have been upheld by popular vote in a historic referendum, which saw 61% of voters of the Republic (source: CNN) agree to the legalisation of marriage for Gay and Lesbian couples.
A turnout of more than 60% of the 3.2 million eligible voters cast ballots, and only one district out of 43 voted the measure down. (Source: NYTimes)
For a country that only decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 and is still viewed as highly conservative, the legalisation of gay marriage is quite a result.
The new section to the constitution will add the wording: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”, a victory for LGBT rights campaigners.
But what is truly remarkable is not so much the YES campaign being successful, or even Catholic, conservative Ireland legalising gay marriages. Other catholic countries have led the way, with Spain (2005), Portugal (2010), or Brazil (2013) all legalising same-sex marriage in this new millennium. What is truly remarkable is that for the first time, the people, not the government, have spoken.
Whilst the debate about same sex marriage is still raging in many parts of the world, the people of Ireland have simply said YES to equality. In 2015, still, the basic human rights of gay and lesbians are not being upheld by legislations in many a so-called “democratic” country. In Ireland, this is not a government (even if this referendum could not have taken place and the voters could not have given voice to their beliefs without the Irish government setting up this historic vote) telling the world it is “progressive” and getting a pat on the back from other so called progressive governments. This vote is a big win for LGBTQ+ campaigners because here, it is a population stating that YES, time has come to move on from bigotry and division; YES, same sex couples are couples, and like heterosexual couples, have the right to possibly make the biggest mistake or best decision of their lives and be united in holy matrimony; and that YES, people are people, regardless of their sexuality, and should therefore be all included as equals within the law, not as distinct and individual groups, but as breathing, living, loving human beings.
The results of this referendum have been called historic, not because Ireland has added its name to the list of countries legalising gay and lesbian marriage, but because the Irish have each and individually added their names to a fight for equality.