A Human Right Issue Cannot Be Voted: Same Sex Marriage and the Tyranny of the Majority

The right of same sex marriage will be voted in Ireland today. The rejection of this constitutional amendment –mostly called as a battle- will lead to severe outcomes for the Irish gay people. Fortunately, it is expected that Irish people will show their support and vote YES. However, this battle is not between conservative and liberal values. It should not be either. Because it is a human right issue. The debates are discussed within the perspectives to widen the principles of equality in society or to approach it within the limits of status quo. Accordingly, The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission declared: “The commission believes that the opening out of civil marriage to two persons without distinction as to their sex is a matter of equality and human rights. Specifically, in light of the constitutional position of the family based on marriage, a constitutional referendum is welcome and necessary in the Irish legal context to debate the question of whether the right to civil marriage should be extended to all individuals without distinction as to their sex.”

The dramatic and alarming case is not only voting either yes or no for the same sex marriage. The grievous mistake is to proceed on the popular vote to legalise a fundamental human right issue. Luckily, the Irish society will not allow the violation of this human right. On the other hand, there is a great probability that the politicians of more conservative societies may follow the path of Ireland to make same sex marriage an issue of popular vote. The rejection of the same sex marriage through popular vote in these countries will legitimise the conservative politicians’ arguments. More importantly, the voting will provide them a rationale by claiming that it was a ‘democratic’ process and the votes of the majority should be respected. This is simply the tyranny of the majority and we know very well the tragic facets of this tyranny from Nazi and Fascist regimes to the dictatorial social orders. The kernel of the truth lies in the banality of political rulers who represent majority through democratic channels and suppress the minorities as dangerous classes in their own societies. This oppression against the gay people is more discernible in the daily lives of relatively more democratic countries like Russia and Turkey where being a homosexual is not a crime legally but it receives a public reaction in the socio-political and cultural realms as if it were a legal crime.

The discrimination against the gay people from job applications to the public service is prevalent even in most ‘democratic’ societies today. Considering the capital punishment to eliminate so-called ‘deviant individuals’ from their societies as it happens in Iran or Nigeria, the severe social, cultural and legal status of the gay people conflates with vehement hostility. The permanent remedy is not making gay rights a voting issue because this tragedy is the outcome of a violation of a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, the oppression will be reverberated dramatically in different parts of the world as long as a human right issue will depend on the rulers of polity and the votes of majority rather than the ultimate values of humanity..