Ban Ki-moon praises Marriage Referendum yes vote

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said Ireland has sent a message to the world with its overwhelming support for gay marriage.

After being honoured with the Tipperary International Peace Award, Ban said the landmark referendum giving equal rights to same-sex couples was a truly historic moment.

“As a dynamic member of the Human Rights Council, Ireland is also a strong proponent of human rights.

“We saw this commitment yet again with Friday’s referendum.

“This is a truly historic moment: Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve marriage equality in a nationwide referendum.

“The result sends an important message to the world: All people are entitled to enjoy their human rights no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Previous recipients of the peace award include Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldof, former president Mary McAleese and in 2013 the Pakistani schoolgirl and activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot at point blank range by a Taliban gunman for going to school.

Ban received the award at an event in Tipperary where he also met some UN peacekeeping veterans.

He addressed the issue of gay rights on a trip to India earlier this year where he said: “We are all different from one another, but we all have the same human rights.”

It is the first of the UN chief’s engagements in Ireland over the next two days when he will also deliver a keynote address in Dublin tonight touching on Ireland’s role in international peacekeeping and the migrant and refugee crisis in Syria and the Mediterranean.

Martin Quinn, honorary secretary of the Tipperary International Peace Award, said Ban was being honoured for his work on climate change, a new development agenda, and the response to conflicts and natural disasters, and described him as “a bridge-builder”.

The prize was first awarded in 1984 to Seán McBride. Mr Quinn said that the appeal of the prize as a non-political award presented by the people of Tipperary resonated with recipients.

“I think that is one of the most important things that attracts people,” he said. “They know there there is no agenda.”

Mr Quinn also said that the international recognition of Tipperary due to the enduring popularity of the music hall classic ‘It’s A Long Way To Tipperary’ also helped in maintaining the prize’s high-profile.

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