Timeline of events to gay marriage

Here are a few key dates on Ireland’s shift from a traditionally Catholic and conservative country to introducing gay marriage.

:: In 1861 while under Victorian British rule the Offences Against the Persons Act was brought in making “buggery” illegal.

Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage

Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, known by his stage name as Panti Bliss arrives at the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle, Dublin, as votes continue to be counted in the referendum on same-sex marriage

:: It was decriminalised for over 21s in England and Wales in 1967 but it would be another 25 years before the Irish government moved.

:: In 1975 the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform was established by activists in Dublin universities. Former Irish president Mary McAleese, who’s son Justin is gay, was the legal adviser.

:: Senator David Norris, a Joycean scholar and something of a national treasure among the gay community and further afield, unsuccessfully challenged the ban in the Irish courts in 1980 and 1983.

:: 1983 also marked the first Gay Pride festival in Dublin.

:: In 1988, with the support of another former Irish president Mary Robinson, David Norris won a European Court of Human Rights case against Ireland’s gay ban.

:: Homosexuality was then decriminalised on June 24 1993.

:: In 2006 the Labour Party proposed laws to introduce civil partnerships for same-sex couples but it was defeated by a conservative Dail parliament.

:: That year Senator Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan began a long line of unsuccessful court battles to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland.

:: By 2010 the mood had shifted among politicians as they voted in laws to hold and recognise gay unions.

:: On April 5 2011 the first civil partnerships took place in Ireland.

:: That same year, as the Labour Party successfully fought an election to get into coalition government, then leader Eamon Gilmore pledged to hold a referendum on gay marriage.

:: In 2013 Mr Gilmore described the issue of same-sex marriage as the civil rights issue of this generation and in November that year the Government confirmed plans for a popular poll.

:: Health Minister Leo Varadkar announces he is gay in January 2015. In doing so he becomes Ireland’s first openly gay cabinet member.

:: Ireland made history on May 22 2015 as its voters became the first to back gay marriage rights by referendum.