Last year, the Irish government announced a referendum vote on the issue of marriage equality for the country. The vote, scheduled for May 2015, will be one of the biggest steps on LGBT rights since homosexuality was decriminalized there over two decades ago. As the debate rages and campaigns continue to try and garner votes for their side, one Irish actor has made his own view known. Colin Farrell has officially come out in support of marriage equality for Ireland, talking about his brother’s experience growing up gay and unequivocally putting his support behind a yes-vote.
Farrell has appeared on Monday night’s current affairs television program on RTE. In an interview with Claire Byrne, the show’s presenter, he discussed his brother’s youth and the pain he experienced with bullying. According to Farrell, his brother Eamon would come home from school bloodied and beaten by the other kids at school, a fact which the actor called “absolute cruelty.” Eamon’s story has a happy ending, however, as he married his partner in Canada where gay marriage is legal and accepted.
The fact that his brother could not marry in his home country was a point of contention for Farrell, who called it “an incredibly successful marriage.” He credits his observation of his brother’s marriage and journey growing up gay as part of what brought him to such a positive conclusion on the issue. Apparently it had enough of an effect for him to come out in support of marriage equality, a concept he says he supports “with every fiber of my being.”
Farrell has talked before about his support for marriage equality and the personal nature of his support. In an open letter to Ireland published late last year, he called it “insane” that his brother had to leave his homeland in order to marry the man he loved. He told his countrymen that “it’s time to right the scale of justice here.” His support has been even more vocal ahead of the Spring 2015 referendum.
Marriage equality has a good chance of passing into law for Ireland. According to opinion polls, 80 percent of the population support marriage equality. Some commentators have noted the quick rise of support over the years for same-sex marriage in Ireland, which may seem a little unusual for famously Catholic country. To be sure, Catholic and conservative supporters of traditional marriage are putting up a fight for a no-vote in May. Despite the overwhelming polling in favor of marriage equality, a variety of factors could make the actual vote much closer than an 80-20 split.
Colin Farrell’s involvement in the issue of marriage equality is a poignant and very personal mission for the famous actor. His brother’s experience growing up and the circumstances around his marriage seem to have affected Farrell very deeply. For him, however, it also involves his much-beloved homeland, which he is unabashedly proud of. As he put it, the referendum vote is about “being the best version of ourselves that we can be.” With that passionate plea, Colin Farrell has come out loudly in favor of marriage equality both for his brother and for Ireland.
By Lydia Bradbury