Adams says Ireland’s ‘yes’ result “huge day for equality”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomes Ireland’s landslide ‘yes’ vote for same-sex marriage and says it is a “huge day for equality”.

DUBLIN, IRELAND (MAY 23, 2015) (REUTERS) – Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams thanked Irish voters who backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum on Saturday (May 23) and said it was a “huge day for equality”.

Final results were not expected until later in the day, but ministers predicted Ireland had become the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote by a margin of around two-to-one, just two decades after it decriminalised homosexuality.

“Well it’s hugely important and I want to thank everyone who voted but I especially want to thank all those people who voted ‘Tá’ (Irish language affirmative), who voted yes, and I want to commend all the equality campaigners,” Adams said.

“It was a wonderful campaign to be part of. They were enthusiastic, idealistic, happy and very very positive. So I think this is a huge day for equality,” he said.

The proposal was backed by all political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by celebrities, all hoping it would mark a transformation in a country that was long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe.

Sinn Fein is in the opposition in Ireland.

Only a third of the country backed the decriminalisation of gay sex for men over 17 in 1993, according to a poll at the time. A supreme court judge in 1983 said homosexuality was “morally wrong” and contributed to depression and suicide.

“Back then to be gay was to run the risk of being assaulted by some reprehensible elements,” Adams said. “We know ourselves and we have a history if you want to treat people unequally the first thing you do is dehumanise them. What this vote did was humanise everyone.”