A landslide victory for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Ireland has the made the largely Catholic nation the first in the world to vote for marriage equality by popular vote.
Official figures from Dublin Castle showed 62.1% percent of Irish voters had voted “Yes” on the question of recognising marriage as a union between two people regardless of their sex.
Irish stars Bono and Colin Farrell were among the supporters and Irish prime minister Enda Kenny backing the “Yes” campaign, saying on Twitter that “the possibility of making all love equal has lit a fire in the hearts & minds of Irish people”.
“With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are: A generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” Kenny said following the announcement of the result.
Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton also declared the victory “a magical moving moment, when the world’s beating heart is in Ireland”.
The landmark referendum saw to a record turnout of over 60% and more than 3.2 million people taking to the polling booths on Friday.
Only two decades ago, homosexuality was decriminalised with civil partnership formally introduced in 2010 to give same-sex couples the same legal protection as married couples.
Although the Catholic Church campaigned strongly for a “No”, its influence has waned in recent decades following a string of child abuse scandals in the early 1990s.
According to The ABC, the Archbishop of Dublin and Ireland’s top Catholic leader Diarmuid Martin called for a “No” vote on the basis that gay rights should be respected “without changing the definition of marriage”.
“I think the church needs to do a reality check right across the board … have we drifted away completely from young people?” he said.
“It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today.”
Despite this, the result has been hailed a milestone for the once-conservative nation.
Speaking on RTÉ Television, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar agreed the referendum was a “social revolution” adding that “Ireland is now beacon of liberty and equality”.
The victory makes Ireland the 19th country in the world to have legalised same-sex marriage and the 14th in Europe.
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