The University of Limerick's students' union has voted to support a 'yes' vote in the upcoming marriage equality referendum.
In a Union General Meeting (UGM) of 140 students, 130 voted in favour of the motion that the students' union take a stance in support of the marriage equality referendum, with up to ten students abstaining from the vote.
 
The motion was taken to the union by Out in UL, the university's LGBTQ society.
 
President of Out in UL, Marielle Xuereb said: “We brought this motion forward because we truly believed this to be a vital issue for LGBT students on campus and we're thrilled by the amount of people who came out to the UGM to give their support.”
 
Ms Xuereb added: “We're so glad to have the support of the ULSU on this matter and we look forward to working with them in the run up to this referendum.”
 
In a number of passionate speeches from society members, the need for "help" in fighting for marriage equality was stressed.
 
Ms Xuereb invoked the students' union constitution, saying that by not taking a stance on the issue the union was failing to protect and fight for the welfare of all of its members, especially those already marginalised in the LGBTQ community.
 
She said claims that the union should be apolitical on issues such as marriage equality could not be defended, explaining that the union could never truly represent all of its members' views on every issue.
 
She said that although the union opposes student fees, for example, some students in the university might be in favour of fees, and as such, the union was not truly representing the views of those particular students.
 
Former president of Out in UL, Kate Stewart, in an emotional plea to those present said that the LGBTQ community in the university were fighting hard for the right to marry and that the community needed the help of everyone, especially its own students' union.
 
"We need your help," Ms Stewart announced to the room.
 
Both speeches and all contributions from members of the society were met with thunderous applause from the gathered crowd.
 
There were a number of concerns also raised by some students, including the perceived bypassing of a students' union referendum on the issue, as has been the case in other colleges taking a similar position on marriage equality.
 
However the only available date this academic year to hold a referendum on the issue would have been at the end of March, leaving less than a month for the union to campaign on the issue.
 
Other claims made including that the vote on the motion might not be adequately democratic were refuted.
 
The room was reminded that the UGM had been advertised for a number of weeks and all students were given the opportunity to attend. Despite this, there remained a notable amount of empty seats in the lecture theatre.
 
This is the first national referendum issue which the ULSU has taken a stance on.
 
Out in UL ran a short campaign earlier in the academic year encouraging and assisting students to register to vote.
 
It is now hoped the ULSU will take an active role in the coming months to encourage the university's approximate 12,000 students to vote in favour of the May referendum on marriage equality.
 
ULSU joins a number of other university students' unions, including NUIG and UCC, in calling for a 'yes' vote in the May poll.
 
Photo: Out in UL/ Facebook