Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, has urged voters to approve a referendum on marriage equality.

Voters head to the polls on Friday.

Ahead of a state mandated 24-hour broadcasting embargo, Kenny told voters: “There is nothing to fear for voting for love and equality.”

At an earlier press conference, Kenny said that a “yes” vote will “obliterate prejudice.”

“The yes will obliterate publicly the remaining barriers of prejudice or the irrational fear of the them and us in this regard,” he said.

Kenny also rejected claims by opponents that religious schools would be forced to teach about the validity of same-sex marriages.

“We have absolute religious freedom here,” he said. “The churches, irrespective of what church they are, have the absolute right to continue their teaching of their doctrine, their principles and their beliefs. Civil law is a separate matter and there may be questions asked in any school about the civil law.”

Ireland is the first nation to put the issue to a popular vote.

(Related: Former Irish president urges “yes” vote on marriage equality.)