The Irish government on Nov. 5 announced it will hold a referendum in 2015 on whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
The announcement comes nearly six months after a commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to allow nuptials for gays and lesbians in the country.
“The Constitutional Convention’s landslide vote in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry was a clarion call for equality which the government has heard today,” Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, said in a Nov. 5 statement. “When the people of Ireland vote on this issue in 2015, we will be participating in a final act of legal recognition of the full equality of our gay and lesbian colleagues and neighbors, friends and family.”
More than 1,500 same-sex couples have taken advantage of Ireland’s civil partnership law since it took effect in 2010.
Iceland, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are among the 15 countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry.
Gays and lesbians will be able to exchange vows in England and Wales next year, while Scottish lawmakers have begun to debate their own same-sex marriage measure.
Croatians in December will vote in a referendum on whether to amend the country’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Maltese parliamentarians last month began to debate a measure that would allow gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions. The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ruled Greece’s 2008 civil unions law that excludes same-sex couples is discriminatory.
Poll: 76 percent of Irish people support same-sex marriage
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Nov. 5 said it would campaign against the referendum.
A poll released on Thursday shows 76 percent of Irish people back marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Nov. 5 announced his support of the issue.
“We are delighted with the Taoiseach’s (prime minister’s) announcement of his strong support for civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples,” Kieran Rose, chair of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, an Irish LGBT advocacy group, said. “It is a momentous and proud moment when our Taoiseach and the leader of our country endorses and supports full citizenship in the Constitution through civil marriage for lesbian and gay people.”