Ireland’s abortion vote landslide set to surpass equal marriage referendum

Ireland has voted to relax laws on abortion by a landslide, exit polls suggest – surpassing the margin of victory in the country’s equal marriage referendum.

Ireland voted in 2015 to amend its constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry, by a vote of 62.07 percent to 37.93 percent.

Three years on, the country yesterday (May 25) headed to the polls again, in a bid to overturn a law restricting access to abortion in the country.

(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Exit polling suggests that the result is again a landslide in favour of the motion to reflect the laws.

According to the Irish Times exit poll, Ireland voted 68 percent Yes to 32 percent for No.

Broadcaster RTÉ projects an even more overwhelming victory, with 69.4 percent for the Yes side and 30.6 percent for No.

The scale of the victory has been likened to the equal marriage result by LGBT campaigners, the majority of whom backed the Yes side or remained neutral in the abortion vote.

Although official counting will take place later today, the Yes campaign is already celebrating a victory.

The Together for Yes campaign said: “We don’t know yet if we changed our Constitution, but we do know that thanks to you all, we changed Ireland.”

Abortion restrictions will remain in place in Northern Ireland, where progress on many political issues has been stalled due to the collapse of power-sharing agreements. Northern Ireland is also currently the only part of the Isles to not permit same-sex couples to marry.

Ireland has rapidly modernised over the past few years, passing a string of LGBT reforms in addition to same-sex marriage.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (C) poses with activists from the ‘Yes’ campaign (BARRY CRONIN/AFP/Getty)

The country’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who campaigned for a Yes vote in the abortion referendum, is one of few openly gay leaders in the world today.

Varadkar has used his platform to stand up for LGBT rights on the global stage, even confronting US Vice President Mike Pence about his record on the issue.

The Irish government last month asked a regulator to draw up guidance for teaching about LGBT issues in relationships and sexuality education (RSE).

Education minister Richard Bruton wrote to the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment to ask it to draw up new guidelines on RSE,

The department says that “LGBTQ+ matters” is one of the specific issues that the minister has asked the body to consider as it modernises the guidelines, as well as consent, social media, the internet and modern contraception.

Minister Bruton said: “It is important that we review this area of learning to make sure that we are adequately providing information to students regarding sexuality and relationships through the curriculum.

“I have asked the NCCA to consider the experience and reality of RSE as delivered in schools, the supports and professional development opportunities provided for teachers.

“The RSE curriculum fulfils an important function. Every student has a right to access information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality, and this must be delivered in a factual manner in every school. This review will help to inform decisions regarding the content of the curriculum and how it is delivered.

“I want to ensure that the RSE curriculum meets the needs of young people today, who face a range of different issues to those faced by young people in the late 1990s.”