DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 16 (UPI) — Same-sex marriage became legal in the Republic of Ireland on Monday after May’s historic referendum.
Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote last May when the Marriage Act 2015 was passed by a wide margin. The act officially took effect on Monday.
However, the law applies only to civil, not religious marriages. Religious organizations will not be forced to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.
On May 23, more than 62 percent of Irish citizens voted in support of the Marriage Act 2015 referendum.
It seems like a surprising chain of events for the heavily Catholic Ireland, but despite a condemnation from the Vatican that declared the vote a “defeat for humanity,” the split from the Vatican represents a continuing trend for the country. In 2005, 69 percent of citizens defined themselves as religious. In 2012, the number had dropped to 47 percent.