30 October 2015
Over on Europe's ancient Emerald Isle same-sex marriage was signed into law in Ireland this week, five months after a historic referendum saw the traditionally Catholic nation become the world's first country to vote an astounding yes for gay unions.
"The Presidential Commission today signed the 'Marriage Bill 2015' into law," the Irish president's office said in a statement, paving the way for the first weddings within a month.
Ireland voted 62.1% in favour of allowing marriage between two people "without distinction as to their sex" in May, the first time anywhere that gay marriage has been legalised in a referendum.
The president's endorsement was the final hurdle for the bill after legal challenges briefly delayed the legislation from coming into effect.
The first ceremonies should be possible by mid-November, according to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
International gay rights campaigners congratulated efforts by Irish activists to win public support for a "Yes" vote in the referendum.
"Tribute must also be paid to national politicians in Ireland, as all the main political parties put aside their partisan differences to campaign for the greater goal of equality," Evelyne Paradis of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association said in a statement.
President Michael D Higgins is currently on a visit to the United States, so the bill was signed by senior delegates of the Irish Presidential Commission on his behalf.