EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionSex & Gender

Ireland’s Victory for Marriage Equality

The birth of a new political imagination?

The Irish electorate’s recent resounding “yes” to the question of marriage equality for LGBT people (62% of the electorate, approximately 1.2 million, voted in favour the proposal) briefly turned the international spotlight on Ireland for reasons other than its imploding economic and banking system. Ireland is the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. This is a significant achievement in and of itself, made all the more remarkable by the fact that it occurred in a country that did not decriminalise (male) homosexual activity until 1993 (after it was compelled to by the European Court of Human Rights), and which only legalised divorce in 1995 by the narrowest of margins. The Irish and international media were quick to proclaim the referendum result a victory for the forces of social liberalisation that put Ireland at the “vanguard of social change” and a defeat for the Catholic Church and its once dominant hegemonic position in Irish society. …

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