Same-Sex Marriage Finally Legal In Northern Ireland
Same-sex marriage is now legally recognised in Northern Ireland, marking a ‘historic’ day for equality and LGBTQ+ rights.
From today, January 13, same-sex couples will be able to register to marry, with the first ceremonies set to take place next month – as couples have to indicate their intention to marry 28 days before doing so.
For couples who are already married, their marriage will now be legally recognised in Northern Ireland. However, those who are already in a civil partnership will not be able to convert it to a marriage at this stage.
This brings Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, with same-sex marriages having been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014. The discrepancy was able to continue for six years because same-sex marriage was an issue devolved to Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In November 2015, a vote on the issue in the devolved assembly resulted in a numerical majority in favour of same-sex marriage for the first time. However, the DUP blocked a change in the law by using a veto known as the Petition of Concern.
Following the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2017, marriage equality campaigners in Northern Ireland turned their attention to Westminster and began campaigning MPs in the Houses of Parliament instead.
In July 2019, MPs backed amendments which required the government to extend same-sex marriage and change abortion laws if devolution was not restored by October 21 2019.
An amendment was made to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 by Labour MP Conor McGinn, saying the government had to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Mr McGinn told BBC News Northern Ireland:
Everyone who values equality, love and respect can celebrate today. It’s a good day for Northern Ireland, an important day for citizens’ rights across these islands and an exciting day for same-sex couples who can now register to marry.
Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International said it was a ‘historic day for equality and human rights in Northern Ireland’.
For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens. So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal.
The first marriages are expected to take place on the week of Valentine’s Day, with the changes marking a huge step in the right direction for Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community.
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CreditsBBC News Northern Ireland
BBC News Northern Ireland