Ireland will hold a referendum on Friday which could make it the world’s first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
This would be a momentous event for gay rights, even more so when you consider that the country is still a majority Catholic nation with long held conservative values.
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, following years of pressure from European authorities, yet now it stands on the cusp of significant social change.
It shows how much the country has changed in recent years, as well as the weakening of the power held by the Catholic church over Irish people’s lives.
The church is still firmly opposed to the referendum but, despite 85 percent of Ireland still identifying as Catholic, many look set to defy the church’s teachings and vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
Pat Carey, a former government minister who came out as gay in February is campaigning for a “yes” vote.
Carey, 67, said:
It’s a different era. There’s a whole new demographic out there that has a vision of an Ireland that’s kinder, more inclusive and more tolerant.
We’ve traveled an amazing journey in a very short space of years. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d see that in my lifetime.
The legalisation of gay marriage would be even more remarkable when you consider that things like abortion are still illegal in Ireland.
The government is backing the “yes” vote, as are all the significant political parties, the major media organisations, unions and business groups, which all suggests that same-sex marriage will be legal come this Friday.
If so, Ireland would become only the 18th country where same-sex marriage is legal (including the UK).
This would be an incredible, historic moment and could encourage many other nations across the world to follow suit.