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  • A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015.

    A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2015

Before counting even began, Ireland’s equality minister revealed that he believed the change of legislation to have triumphed.

Ireland looks set to become the first country in the world to welcome in same-sex marriage through popular vote, as preliminary results of the referendum point to a landslide victory for the Yes camp.

Before counting even began, Ireland’s equality minister revealed that he believed the change of legislation to have gone through.

“I think it’s won. I’ve seen bellwether boxes open, middle-of-the road areas who wouldn’t necessarily be liberal and they are resoundingly voting yes,” equality minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told Reuters.

Although results are not expected until Saturday afternoon, local time, an unusually high turnout, 60 percent in urban areas and 50 percent in rural, heavily tipped the balance in favor of a yes majority.

RELATED: Young Irish Ring their Grannies for Same-Sex Marriage

“It’s a historic day for Ireland,” Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said, adding that if any constituencies voted No, it would only be a handful.

Apparently conceding the vote, prominent No campaigner David Quinn posted a message of congratulations to his opponents to Twitter.

“Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done. #MarRef,” he wrote.

Ireland joins a group of 17 other countries that allow gay and lesbian partners to tie the knot, including Argentina, the U.K., New Zealand and Brazil, demonstrating the great strides it has made since 1993, when homosexuality was first legalized.

Pro-equal marriage campaigners had already begun to celebrate Saturday morning, taking to social media to express their happiness.

“Turns out there is a pot of gold at the end of the Irish rainbow - Equality!” wrote Shobaz Kandola.

“Oh Ireland I love you so much today, bursting with pride for everyone back home today,” wrote Jacqui McSweeney.

RELATED: Homophobia: World facts

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