First Irish gay marriages due this year as challenge defeated

Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:53pm EDT
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Gay couples in Ireland should be able to marry before the end of the year after the country's Supreme Court refused to allow an appeal following an unsuccessful legal challenge to May's landmark same-sex marriage referendum.

Ireland became the first country to adopt gay marriage via a popular vote, with the backing of 62 percent of voters, signaling a major change in attitudes in what was once a strongly Catholic and socially conservative society.

The government had planned to enact the required laws by the end of July but was delayed after two men sought to challenge the outcome, one of whom said it had been unfairly influenced by government parties campaigning for a 'Yes' vote.

The government will introduce the legislation when it returns from summer recess next week.

"I hope this legislation can be enacted as soon as possible so that the first same-sex marriages can take place before the end of the year," Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said in a statement. 

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Catherine Evans)

A couple embraces outside the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton