PHOTOS: Ireland Votes To Legalise Gay Marriage; Becomes First Country To Legalise Same-Sex Marriage By Popular Vote

Paul Bonass and Luke Hoare Greene kiss in front of yes balloons at Dublin Castle
Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
The Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic referendum. More than 62% voted in favour of amending the country's constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

It is the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said it was a "small country with a big message for equality" around the world.

The referendum was held 22 years after homosexual acts were decriminalised in the Republic of Ireland.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 20 countries worldwide.

The atmosphere at Dublin Castle, where thousands of people gathered to watch the results being announced, was more like a festival than a referendum result.

Counting began at 09:00 BST on Saturday, and the final result was declared shortly before 19:00 BST. Cheers and applause greeted the announcement of the results by the returning officer Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile.

The turnout was more than 60%, and the outcome seemed clear a short time into the count, with prominent "no" campaigners declaring defeat early on.

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