Ireland has officially become the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.
The referendum was held yesterday with 3.2 million people casting their vote to decide whether they wanted to amend the country’s constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
The results of the vote were revealed today (counting started at 9am this morning), and showed an overwhelming support in favour of same-sex marriage.
Ireland passed the same-sex marriage referendum by 1,201,607 votes to 734,300. That breaks down as 62.1% “yes” to 37.9% “no”.
Out of 43 constituencies, only the largely rural Roscommon-South Leitrim had a majority of “no” votes.
An “unusually high” turnout of 60.5% for the referendum was reported, and many ex-pats shared their stories of returning home to Ireland to cast their vote on social media yesterday under the hashtag #hometovote.
Large crowds gathered at Dublin Castle ahead of the result and celebrations are now in full swing.
The result means a marriage between two people of the same sex will now have the same status and protection under the Irish constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman.
The result is 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, and civil partnerships only became legal in the country in 2010.
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.
Ireland is now the 18th country across the world where same-sex marriage is legal (including the UK).
Ireland made history today. Hopefully this progressive thinking encourages many more nations to follow suit!