Ireland has voted by a huge majority to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so by popular vote in a move hailed as a social revolution and welcomed around the world. Some 62% of the Irish Republic’s electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland’s journey towards a more liberal, secular society. Out of an electorate of more than 3 million, 1,201,607 backed gay marriage, while 734,300 voters said No. The result prompted a massive street party around the gay district of central Dublin close to the national count centre.
Directly addressing Ireland’s gay community, taoiseach Enda Kenny said the result meant that “a majority of people in this Republic have stood up for them [those in the gay community].” He said: “In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement. With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are. We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to gay marriage.”
Irish deputy prime minister and Labour leader Joan Burton added: “The people of Ireland have struck a massive blow against discrimination.” And quoting the late American politician and LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk, she said: “Hope will never be silent.”
All but one of the republic’s 43 parliamentary constituencies voted Yes to same-sex marriage. And fears of an urban-rural, Yes/No split were not realised either. Constituencies such as Donegal South West, which in the past voted against divorce and abortion reform, backed the Yes side. Theminister for equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, said on Twitter: “A landslide across Dublin. And I’m so proud to be Irish today.”