Sunday, 17 May 2015

Malta Today: Ireland appears set to vote in favour of gay marriag

National polls indicate country would vote in favour of gay marriage by margin as much as two-to-one
17 May 2015, 9:52am by a Staff Reporter

Irish voters are set to back the introduction of gay marriage by a margin of as much as two-to-one in next week’s referendum, a series of polls indicated.

Long considered as one of the most socially conservative countries in Western Europe, support for gay rights has surged in Ireland in recent decades as the power of the Catholic Church collapsed.

The Irish Times poll of 1,200 voters showed 58% planned to vote in favour of the measure compared to 25% against and 17% undecided. Two more polls to be published in newspapers on Sunday put support for the constitutional change above 60%.

A third poll saw the advantage of the Yes side slip to 53% with 24% opposed and almost as many undecided.

Long a taboo in a country that only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, gay rights have been championed by all the main political parties. Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny was widely praised for appearing at a prominent gay bar last year at an event for gay members of his Fine Gael party.

The campaign has led to a number of high profile figures announcing their homosexuality publicly, including the country's health minister and prominent television journalist.

Campaigners against gay marriage have made some gains after warning that it might lead to an increase in adoptions and surrogacy births involving gay couples. Yes campaigners reject the claims. A number of Catholic bishops, who have played a low key role in the campaign, warned their parishioners that the vote could profoundly change the understanding of marriage, family and parenthood.

Ireland was recently placed at twentieth place in the International Lesbian-Gay Association’s ‘Rainbow Europe’ League. Malta, on the other hand, shot up to a historic third ranking for having advanced in LGBTI rights - namely with the introduction of civil unions and gender identity laws that made worldwide headlines.

Irish voters go to the polls on Friday, with the results of the referendum expected the following day.

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