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Conor McGregor on Ireland gay marriage referendum: 'We all deserve equal rights'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- It's not often an MMA fighter takes a stand on current events, whether it be political, social or otherwise. That's why when Conor McGregor tweeted about Ireland's same sex marriage referendum this week it got a lot of attention.

On Tuesday, McGregor tweeted to urge everyone in his home country of Ireland to vote yes for marriage equality when the polls open on a referendum Friday. The tweet was accompanied by a graphic of McGregor and his entire team in front of a flag for the LGBT movement.

"We all deserve equal rights," McGregor said at a media day Thursday to promote his UFC 189 main event against Jose Aldo on July 11 in Las Vegas. "We're all human here at the end of the day -- regardless of color, gender, sexuality. Any of that. It's all meaningless. We all deserve the same rights. It just feels right to me."

Ireland is the first country ever to put same sex marriage to a popular vote. Other countries have passed laws allowing same sex marriage, but Ireland is the first to hold a referendum.

"I can put something out and it can reach a lot of people, so I decided that it was the right thing to do that," McGregor said. "My whole team [has] done it with me. We are proud to support that."

McGregor's longtime coach John Kavanagh of Dublin's Straight Blast Gym is a gay rights activist. Kavanagh's brother is gay and he calls the fact that it's even referred to as a political issue "ridiculous."

"It's just an equal rights matter," Kavanagh said. "It's just kind of insane in 2015 we're having this conversation. It's sort of embarrassing to be honest.

"July 11 is important in terms of sport. But sport is sport. That's all. This is the most important day of my life in terms of a country standing up to religious bigotry."

Same sex marriage is legal in 36 of 50 states in the United States. Ireland, which is primarily Roman Catholic, was the last country in Western Europe to decriminalize homosexuality just over two decades ago. McGregor is hoping his home country catches up with the current times. If he weren't in Las Vegas preparing for UFC 189, McGregor said he would vote himself. But he was happy to tweet his support for marriage equality this week and speak about it on the record.

"I just hope it does," McGregor said. "The support for the yes vote has been phenomenal. We will see. [The law] is stone age sh*t. It's a new age. It's time to get with it."

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