Ireland votes to keep ‘sexist’ language in the constitution

The voters rejected the proposal to expand the definition of families and the role of women

Irish voters have overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to revise the definition of families in the country’s conservative constitution and remove the mention of women’s “duties in the home.” Both the government and opposition parties have argued that the current text contains old-fashioned and sexist language about women and their role in society.

The referendum on the matter was held on Friday, which was timed to coincide with the International Women’s Day.

The voters were offered an option to expand the constitutional protection of families to include those founded on “durable relationships” other than marriage. They were also offered to remove the clause about the state’s duty to “ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labor to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

According to the official results released late on Saturday, 67.7% voted against redefining the family, while nearly 74% rejected the removal of the “duties in the home” clause.

“I think it’s clear at this stage that the family amendment and the care amendment referendums have been defeated,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at a press conference in Dublin on Saturday, admitting that the authorities had failed to convince the majority of the public.

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He previously argued that the ‘no’ vote would be “a step backwards” for women’s rights and criticized “the very old-fashioned language, very sexy language” of the constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin voiced his frustration with the results as well, but stressed that the cabinet “fully respects” them.

According to the Irish media, the vague wording of the amendments, problems with messaging and lackluster campaigning were among the reasons why the people voted ‘no’.

Adopted in 1937, Ireland’s constitution has been strongly influenced by the Catholic Church and reflects conservative views on social issues. In the last decade, however, the country legalized same-sex marriages and repealed a near-total abortion ban.


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