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From Conservative Country to Liberal Society: How Same-sex Marriage was approved by a Referendum

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

In May 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to approve gay marriage in a popular vote. How did this once conservative, catholic country become such a liberal society?

Eamon Gilmore traces the progressive changes which were won over the decades and recalls his own experiences of the campaigns, and the challenges which remain, including abortion. The lecture explores parallels elsewhere, identifies denials of and risks to personal freedoms in different parts of the world, and suggests how modern politics can address them.

George Soros Visiting Practitioner Chair Eamon Gilmore is a former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ireland; and a former Leader of the Irish Labour Party. He has played a leading role, over four decades, in the liberalisation of Ireland's laws on personal freedoms. He is currently the European Union's Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia and is Adjunct Professor in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University. He has been named by Foreign Policy magazine as a Leading Global Thinker, "for championing gay marriage in a catholic bastion."