In an historic Irish referendum on 22 May, sixty-two per cent voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Pressure is now growing to legalize same-sex marriages in Germany and other European countries.
In Germany, the Catholic church and Christian-conservative politicians in have presented a front against full equality for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. They reject, for example, full adoption rights for homosexual partners.
In Ireland, traditionally a staunchly Catholic country, homosexuality was an offence until 1993. The Catholic church still preaches that homosexuality is a sin. But Ireland is now set to become the twentieth state to open marriage to same-sex partners.
The situation for homosexual people elsewhere in the world can be extremely perilous. Same-sex partners often experience prejudice and hostility. In many countries people are at great risk if they are openly homosexual. In some states, such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Mauritania homosexuality is a crime that carries the death penalty.
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Alan Posener – who was born in London, worked for many years as an editor at “Die Welt” and the “Welt am Sonntag”. After the referendum, he says: “Bravo Ireland! The rest of the world should follow this example.”
Andreas Kluth – has been writing for The Economist since 1997. He has been the magazine’s Bureau Chief and Germany Correspondent in Berlin since 2012. He says: “In the West, opinion is shifting in favor of gay marriage. But we see a worrying trend in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East away from gay rights.”
John Berwick – is the religious affairs correspondent for DW English. An expert on Roman Catholic theology, he lived for several years in a Carmelite monastery in southern Germany. He says: “There’s no place for theology in civil marriage law.”