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Gay Marriage Ireland has voted to allow gay marriage.

Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote after more than 1.2million people overwhelmingly backed allowing same-sex unions in a historic referendum.

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Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote after more than 1.2million people overwhelmingly backed allowing same-sex unions in a historic referendum.

Ballots from all 43 constituencies have now been counted and official figures show 62.1 per cent supported the reform, with the highest turnout at a referendum in Ireland in over two decades.

Celebrations spilled out into the streets as thousands of 'Yes' supporters gathered in the usually quiet grounds of Dublin Castle, cheering and waving rainbow flags, feather boas and umbrellas, and bursting into a rendition of the national anthem as the landslide results were revealed.

Ireland's equalities minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin lost his composure earlier today when it became clear the way the vote would go, tweeting: 'Ireland hasn't just said "Yes"... Ireland has said: "F*** YEAAHHHH"'.

The biggest support was recorded in Dublin South where almost 75 per cent voted 'Yes', but there were closer results in some parts of the nation.

Out of a total electorate of 3,221,681, some 1,949,725 people cast their ballots in Friday's referendum, meaning a turnout of 60.52 percent, although there were 13,818 invalid ballot papers. A total of 734,300 votes were cast against the proposal, or 37.93 percent.

A large proportion of the turnout is thought to be due to students' unions encouraging members to get their names on the electoral register and a spontaneous influx of voting emigrants who marked their return on social media with #hometovote.  

Voters had been asked one simple, specific question on whether to amend Article 41 of the 1937 Constitution by adding a new clause to a section titled The Family.

It asked them to support or reject a change to the 78-year-old document which reads: 'Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.' 

Gay rights activists cried with joy as they celebrated behind the iron gates of the castle, while those that couldn't get in joined crowds spilling out from nearby bars to share the moment.

Government ministers waved a rainbow flag from the stage in front of the crowd and one lesbian senator proposed to her partner live on national television.

'The answer is yes to their future, yes to their love, yes to equal marriage. That "Yes" is heard loudly across the world as a sound of pioneering leadership from our people,' Prime Minister Enda Kenny told a news conference. 'Ireland, thank you.'

Ireland's deputy prime minister, Labour Party leader Joan Burton, said Ireland was becoming 'a rainbow nation with a huge amount of diversity'. 

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's health minister and first openly gay cabinet member, said it was a special day.

Mr McGuiness said today: 'Politicians, particularly in the north, need to reflect on this progress.

'The world is moving on and Ireland is taking the lead. Pride in Ireland has taken on a whole new meaning.'

'It seems to me that the Irish people had their minds made up on this some time ago.

'Something has been awakened in the Irish people... it was not just a referendum it was more like a social revolution,' he said. 

'We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it's a very proud day to be Irish.'

Senator David Norris, who fought from the 1970s to 1993 to have homosexuality decriminalised, said it was a wonderful result.

'We've been brought on board as equal citizens by the generosity of and decency of our straight and fellow citizens and for that I am deeply grateful,' he said.

Other countries have held referendums on gay marriage, including Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia, where same-sex unions were voted against by the electorate. Ireland now joins nineteen other countries where gay marriage is legal.

Also, In a separate referendum also being held today, voters are being asked their views on proposals to reduce the age limit on who can stand for the presidency from 35 to 21.

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