Thousands of expatriates flew home to Ireland this week ahead of Friday’s nationwide referendum on whether or not to legalize gay marriage, with many using the hashtag #HomeToVote on social media to document the trip. The vote was expected to draw the highest turnout of any referendum in Ireland’s history, reports said.
Irish law stipulates that expatriates who left Ireland within the last 18 months can vote in referendums, but only if they cast their ballots in person, the Guardian reports. Throughout this week, Twitter was awash with photos of Irish citizens who flew home from around the world to vote in Ireland’s gay marriage referendum. The hashtag #HomeToVote was used several thousand times by Friday morning, as many of Ireland’s 60,000 eligible expatriates made the trek back to the Emerald Isle.
“This is an issue that affects all of us and will affect future generations of Irish people,” returning Irish expat Eoin Gill told NBC News. “I’ve come home for general elections before, but they’re nothing compared to this. This is the vote that will be remembered, and we will all look back on this moment in years to come.”
Approximately 60 percent of Ireland’s 3.2 million registered voters were expected to participate in Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum, the Guardian reports. Turnout in Dublin was expected to be particularly strong. Ireland had classified homosexuality as a criminal offense until 1993.
Referendum polls opened at 7 a.m. local time Friday morning and closed at 10 p.m. local time. Results are expected by Saturday morning. Those who participate in the referendum will be asked for their opinion on one statement, Buzzfeed News reports: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
Polls conducted ahead of the referendum predicted twice as many Irish citizens would vote in favor of the referendum than would vote against it, Reuters reports. Below is a roundup of photos from the “#HomeToVote” social media movement.
— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) May 22, 2015
— Ian McCafferty (@CommunalSpoon) May 21, 2015
— Jason Byrne (@JasonByrnePhD) May 21, 2015
— Daire Guilfoyle (@dguilf) May 21, 2015
— Colin Oliver (@Collie_Ollie) May 22, 2015
— Kevin Beirne (@KevBeirne) May 21, 2015
— Mazzy K (@MazzyK) May 22, 2015
— Carol Hunt (@carolmhunt) May 21, 2015
— Helen Kennedy (@HKHunterKiller) May 21, 2015