Ireland has become the first country in the world to legalize marriage equality in a popular national vote. On Friday, May, 22, 2015, Irish voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage. The global impact of the historic popular vote to bring marriage equality to Ireland cannot be underestimated as many countries still depict gays as criminals.
While in some countries marriage equality is an imperative goal for LGBT rights, in other countries mere decriminalization will do for the many who merely seek to live safely and happily, without governments promoting homophobia and its resulting violence through legislation, arrests and lies about homosexuality.
Here is Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African HRC on the issue of how the Irish vote can impact other countries, noting that Ireland is a country with deep religious convictions and roots:
The Supreme Court of the United States will soon hand down its ruling on the marriage equality cases argued last month before the nine Justices, some of whom may still hold their religious perspectives ahead of what is popular at this time. I believe that the United States will be severely embarrassed if our Justices fail to come up with the ultimate ruling in favor of marriage equality for all U.S. States. It is as if the Irish have spoken for us all. If they can do it why can’t we? We have so much in common. The result is hard to ignore or turn one’s back on. It is indicative too of a country we respect refuting all those anti same sex marriage arguments.
Rusty penal codes which still plague the globe, a draconian finger point to the Colonial era, and which continue to criminalize homosexuality, will look even more foolish than they already do.
New ramped up anti-homosexuality legislation which leaders are trying to introduce into global parliaments such as in Africa, based on comical myth and devilish lies will be rendered even more persecutory and ludicrous when Dublin and Cork do not become overnight Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Pope will have to reevaluate how the Vatican plans to pursue its dialogue and policy in the arena of civil equality, and the reality that so many Catholics worldwide have so many LGBTI people as family members, who they lovingly believe should have equality under the civil laws of their respective countries.
The Irish are in effect telling the people and leaders of anti-gay countries that the violence inducing rhetoric and constant lying about gay people is the malarkey we who are gay, lesbian and bisexual have all known it to be.
Ireland’s vote shows the world that a country can have strong religious ideals and backgrounds and still prove that the Christian religions expound love, acceptance and equality as an overarching principle.
The Irish as a people collectively do not interpret the Bible in a fundamentalist fashion– and that religion and the acceptance of homosexuality in the civil arena can coexist pain-free, especially where one is able to contextualize Biblical dicta and adapt it to a modern era where we live our sexualities openly and not in secret