Update after 5 hours of counting the votes: It seems to be a big majority Yes vote throughout Ireland.
On the 25th of May 1895, Oscar Wilde was convicted for indecency. As horrifying as it can sound today, 120 years later, homosexuality was a criminal offence in Britain at the time and Wilde didn’t stand much chance. Here is the verdict that put him in jail for 2 years, ‘It is the worst case I have ever tried. I shall pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment, it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for two years.’ It took long to decriminalise this law in Britain and it took it even longer to Wilde’s Ireland.
Yes, Ireland proved and proves in many cases to be very conservative. Not only was Ireland one of the last countries in the western world to decriminalise homosexuality in 1993, it was one of the last to allow divorce by a tight vote in the referendum of 1995. On top of that, Ireland is one of the last countries of the Western world that doesn’t allow abortion and the clear clause that allows it if the mother’s life is in danger, was added to the law only 2 years ago. Nevertheless, Ireland can sometimes surprises by its progressiveness – today the Irish vote in the Referendum on Marriage Equality. The decision is to be made about the change of the marriage definition in the Irish Constitution, ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.’
Ireland has been changing with fast pace in the recent years and don’t think it’s the immigrants and the lost souls that left the Catholic flock, who will vote Yes today. I’ve been watching the social media and the reactions of my friends, some of whom are true believers, from very traditional Catholic families, married to people of a different sex. They are among the most vocal, shouting to vote YES for equality, inclusion, tolerance, freedom and above all for love. Therefore, I hope that the Irish will not take this as the vote for the religion or politics, but the vote for humanity. If they take it that way, I am sure that the Yes vote will win because the Irish have a big heart when it comes to it.
In any case, I won’t be surprised if I see this referendum pass, as much as I won’t be surprised if I see it not, knowing how strong the conservative forces in Ireland still are. Whatever’s the result, this is a step towards the right direction and, hopefully, the stigma that still in many cases follows those that feel differently than the majority of us, will soon be a part of our backward past which will hear the first big verdict today in Ireland.