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Couple Have First Same-Sex Wedding In Northern Ireland Since Legalisation

by : Cameron Frew on : 11 Feb 2020 17:26
Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandSharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandPA Images

Two women from Belfast have become the first same-sex couple to get married in Northern Ireland since new legislation was introduced. 

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Sharni Edwards, 27, and Robyn Peoples, 26, tied the knot today, February 11, at a hotel in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, with their first dance reportedly set to Nathan Sykes and Ariana Grande’s Over And Over Again.

The newly-weds, who met in a gay bar in Belfast and have been together for six years, had been planning a civil partnership for the same date but opted for a wedding after January 13’s legalisation of same-sex marriage across the country – the couple are now set to jet off to Cyprus for their honeymoon.

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandSharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandPA Images

The recent legislation brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, where same-sex marriages have been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014. The six-year wait was due to the matter being devolved to Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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However, after Stormont’s collapse in 2017 over policy disagreements, LGBTQ+ campaigners turned to Westminster. Then, in 2019, Labour MP Conor McGinn made an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, outlining that the government had to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandSharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandPA Images

Ahead of the big day, Robyn earlier told BBC News: ‘We’re both nervous but very excited. We just can’t believe it’s happening next week. I just want to say thank you to everyone in Northern Ireland who has made this possible for us. Behind the scenes, everyone who’s marched, everyone who’s emailed, petitions, everything.’

Sharni also told Pink News

It is so surreal for me. I still have to pinch myself. I just feel humbled and grateful. The younger generation need people to look up to, to see it’s OK for a woman to love a woman. We are so thankful for the Love Equality campaigners for fighting for us. If it wasn’t for their hard work and effort, we wouldn’t be in this position now. We would still be having a civil partnership next week.

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandSharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples Same-Sex Marriage In Northern IrelandCameron Frew

Robyn added: ‘It wasn’t intentional but we are so grateful for it. It helps other people to see we are just like any other normal couple, except we are both girls. There is nothing different about us from the next couple you see in the street.’

Couples that are already married are now able to have their unions legally recognised, while the Northern Ireland Office is set to enter into a consultation later this year regarding the conversion of civil partnerships into marriages, which is currently not possible.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: News, LGBT Rights, LGBTQ+, Northern Ireland, Relationships, same-sex marriage

Credits

BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    Same-sex marriage: Couple 'excited but nervous' to become first in NI

  2. Pink News

    First same-sex couple to marry in Northern Ireland ‘humbled and grateful’ to be making history