More than 62 per cent of voters at a referendum held in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland have said Yes in favour of amending the country’s constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
It is the first country in the world to overwhelmingly vote and legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny while commenting on the development said it was a “small country with a big message for equality” around the world.
The referendum regarded as a new deal in several ways was held 22 years after homosexual acts were decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland.
Reports from Dublin Castle where the results of the referendum was announced by returning officer, Riona Ni Fhlanfhaile said that the atmosphere looked carnival as cheers and applause filled the center.
The Republic of Ireland has a written constitution which can only be changed by referendum.
Now that the proposal has been passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Irish constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman ,and they will be recognised as a family and be entitled to the constitutional protection for families.
Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal in Ireland since 2010, giving couples legal protection which could be changed by the government.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, who earlier this year came out as the Republic of Ireland’s first openly gay minister, said the vote showed that the “traditional cultural divide” between rural and urban areas had vanished.
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martins in his reaction said that if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people, the church had a “huge task in front of it”
In 2010, the Irish government enacted civil partnership legislation, which provided legal recognition for gay couples.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Eamon Martin, has said the church may look at whether it continues to perform the civil side of solemnisation if the change comes in.
Same sex marriage is now legal in 20 countries of the world .