Irish voters are set make history as the republic becomes the first nation to ask its electorate to legalise gay marriage after a hard-fought and occasionally rancorous battle between conservative and liberal Ireland. More than 3m voters are invited to cast ballots over 15 hours in Ireland’s 43 constituencies, with the historic result to follow on Saturday. Though some 20 other countries worldwide have already legalised gay marriage, Ireland would be the first to do so through a referendum. The move would mark the culmination of an improbable journey in a country in which homosexual acts were still illegal as recently as 1993.
The Fine Gael-Labour government, alongside the main opposition parties, said they were confident that Ireland will vote yes today despite strong campaigning in the last few days by those opposed to same-sex marriage.
The government point to an extra 68,000 new people of voting age who have signed on to the electoral register within the last fortnight. The administration in Dublin sees this as a sign that younger voters will turn out in higher numbers than in previous referendums to back the yes side. In every opinion poll the yes camp has been ahead of the no side.