Huge turnout has Yes campaign hopeful as Ireland votes in landmark referendum on same-sex marriage

Photo: Charles McQuillan/ Getty Images.

A landmark referendum on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Ireland has seen to a record turnout with more than 3.2 million people taking to the polling booths on Friday.

Voters were asked if they wanted to amend the current constitution to allow marriage between gay and lesbian couples and if “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex”.

If the legislation is approved, this will make Ireland the first country to legalise same-sex marriage following a popular vote.

The historic case comes just two decades after homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993 and civil partnership was formally introduced in 2010 to give same-sex couples the same legal protection as married couples.

But despite the extensive gains in tax, property and social welfare for same-sex couples, the main difference was that they were not afforded constitutional protection.

Last month, Irish singer Hozier filmed a video calling for marriage equality saying that the upcoming referendum was “not simply a gay rights issue, or a civil rights issue, but one of basic human rights”.

“To anyone in my generation, like me, who feels that their values have long gone unrepresented by the word of law, and want to be proud to live in a nation that does not discriminate or implicitly condemn, I strongly encourage you to vote.”

Ireland is now playing a waiting game as 43 parliamentary constituencies make the count before the overall national result on Saturday.

So far, 18 countries in the world have legalised gay marriage with 13 of those in Europe alone.

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