In 1996, you could not get divorced in Ireland. In 1993, simply being gay was criminal. Ireland STILL outlaws abortion.
Historically, social policy in Ireland has been outsourced to The Vatican – the Irish government has had a complete lack of testicular fortitude and acted as a Papal rubber stamp. The Irish had no control over their own private lives, were told to like it, and did.
That all started changing in the 2000s. Ireland was exposed to something it hadn’t seen for many, many decades: Other cultures. The British were easy to dismiss: They were vile oppressors, terrorists, eaters of babies, the Evil Empire which had divided the Fair and Good Emerald Isle.
The Internet hit Ireland like a hammer hits a window. Ireland had some waking up to do. It started asking questions. Hating the queers is normal – I thought everyone did it? Normal women can’t get abortions – I thought that was only for prostitutes? Some people don’t believe in Our One And Only God – I thought that was only for evil rapist-murderers?
Slowly, Ireland came around. The breaking point was the economic downturn in the late 2000s and early 2010s. In other nations, it was easy to pin the blame on foreign agents, immigrants, Jews, bankers… Ireland had none of these in any noticeable quantity and was especially hard hit.
Ireland turned inward – there wasn’t anyone else. Even the English couldn’t take the fall this time. Could it be themselves to blame? Were they, in fact, a little bit backwards as all the folk on the Internet and their weird “freedoms” seemed to suggest? It led to soul searching and a huge wave of liberalism. Folk don’t naturally want to hate each other, it has to be learned somewhere, and conservatives are driven mostly by fear and hate, the laws of “We’re all united if we can hate on some insignificant minority”. The conservatives had gone too far: Everyone else wasn’t doing anything like that. Maybe family planning was for the best? Maybe my marriage won’t fall apart if a gay couple can marry?
The Irish government had failed to silence dissent on the Internet. Irish people could see how life was in America, in Britain, other Anglosphere nations. Those people could do things, and did do things, that simply weren’t done in Ireland. Ireland started to realise it was being oppressed.
When Ireland is oppressed, Ireland does something about it.
The snooty priests and out-of-touch government were preaching the laws of hate, but the Internet is fundamentally a social place, and hate doesn’t work well. We still cover instances of hate mobs individually on places like Twitter, they’re so rare.
In 2013, support for marriage among homosexuals was 36%. Queers can have their own special “civil unions” only because the European Union said they had to stop discrimination. Marriage is sacred! Marriage has deep and special meaning to the family!
Ireland performed secular marriages. Ireland did not bar atheists from marriage. Infertile people were not restricted from marriage. Marriage clearly was not sacred, was not about the family – it was secular and discriminatory.
A bare minimum which was good enough for the European Court of Human Rights was not good enough for the Irish: In 2015, a referendum on the topic seems to be polling 70% in favour.
Well done, Ireland.
The preliminary results are so overwhelmingly in favour that the “No” campaign – based mostly around wanting to prohibit infertile men and women from marriage (and how is this not plain evil?) have conceded defeat.