Following a referendum held in May 2015, the Republic of Ireland yesterday (16 November 2015) passed new legislation allowing same-sex marriage in the state, thereby becoming the first in the world to implement such measures as a result of popular vote.
The initial group of people to be affected by the new law consists of same-sex couples who had previously married abroad legally, and will have their married status recognised automatically by the Republic of Ireland. As of yesterday, couples who wish to marry in the state are now able to do so.
Couples who had applied to register civil partnerships will have the option to convert their relationship into a legally acknowledged marriage from the same date. Those already in a civil partnership in the Republic of Ireland can now also choose to be legally wed, but must give a minimum of 5 days’ notice of their intentions to a registration office. New civil partnership applications are no longer being accepted.
The new legislation comes as a result of an overwhelmingly positive public vote, which took place in the still highly Catholic Republic of Ireland last May, wherein 1,201,607 people voted in favour of same-sex marriage in the state and 734,000 people voted against it. Any Irish church or organisation that does not wish to recognise the new law will not be obliged to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and will continue to choose individually whether to approve applications of same-sex marriage.