Revisiting memories of the Irish marriage equality referendum on its 8th anniversary

On the 8th anniversary of the marriage equality referendum, we celebrate the 1.2 million YES votes that helped to create a more equal society.

Crowd with cake and rainbow props gathers at Dublin castle to celebrate the marriage referendum in Ireland.
Image: Twitter @caoimhseach

On May 22, 2015, the Marriage Referendum saw Ireland become the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage through popular vote.

The path to marriage equality was incredibly emotional and challenging. Campaigners described the pain of debating with friends and family members over their sacred values and ideologies. But the victory was a powerful statement across Ireland and to the rest of the world. With a final vote of 62% in favour and 38% against, a republic once controlled by the doctrines of the Catholic church crossed into a new era representing a more liberal, secular society.

Today, we’re taking a look back at how the LGBTQ+ community responded to 1.2 million people in Ireland voting YES to the marriage referendum eight years ago.


In 2015, LGBTQ+ activists organised a social media campaign encouraging young Irish citizens to return from abroad in time to cast their votes, and thousands of people travelled home from all corners of the world to do exactly that.

Ultimately, the high turnout among younger voters boosted the votes in favour of supporting marriage equality, and the #HomeToVote hashtag is full of incredibly moving and emotional memories.

While young people and LGBTQ+ activists were at the forefront of the social revolution campaign, an encouraging amount of voters from older generations who grew up in the traditionally conservative Catholic country voted in favour of marriage equality as well.

Those who campaigned have specific memories from the day of the vote, and the #MarRefMemories hashtag holds an incredibly powerful reminder of what was accomplished eight years ago.

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Marriage Equality referendum in 2020, while the country was experiencing the first Covid-19 lockdown, GCN streamed a special online event hosted by Una Mullally. The event was incredibly meaningful and connecting during a time of so much uncertainty.

The live-streamed event included interviews with special guests who were at the forefront of the battle for equal rights. It also featured musical guests and heartfelt stories from leaders in Ireland who were instrumental in the marriage equality campaign.

We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, especially for ensuring the safety and protection of the trans community. Still, eight years later, we’re thankful for this victory and the work of activists and allies to creat a more equal Irish society for LGBTQ+ people.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.