Same-sex marriage is now LEGAL in Northern Ireland: Couples can register their nuptials from today before first weddings can go ahead next month
- An October 2019 Westminster bill changed the law in Northern Ireland
- Law comes into force today and the first marriages will take place next month
- The province did not adopt same sex marriage legislation which came in in 2014
Same-sex marriage is legally recognised in Northern Ireland from today.
Following a legal change last autumn, same-sex couples can now register to marry and the first ceremonies will take place next month. Those who are already married will have their marriage legally recognised in Northern Ireland.
Heterosexual couples will also be able to enter into civil partnerships from today.
But same sex couples in a civil partnership will not yet be able to convert it to a marriage in the province – the Northern Ireland Office is set to begin a consultation on the matter later this year.
The status of same sex marriage and of abortion in Northern Ireland has long lagged behind the rest of the UK.
ollowing a legal change last autumn, same-sex couples in Northern Ireland can now register to marry and the first ceremonies will take place next month
Labour’s Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, tabled an amendment which extended same sex marriage to Northern Ireland over the heads of the suspended devolved Assembly
And when the Stormont power sharing assembly collapsed three year ago, marriage equality campaigners turned their focus to Westminster.
In July 2019, MPs backed amendments which required the government to change abortion laws and extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution was not restored by 21 October 2019.
An amendment was made to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 by the Labour MP Conor McGinn saying that the government had to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Speaking to BBC News NI, Mr McGinn said ‘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,’ he said.
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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,’ he said.
Same-sex marriages have been allowed in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014, but Stormont did not legalise them.
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.
Because couples have to indicate their intention to marry 28 days before doing so, the first weddings are expected to be held in the week of Valentine’s Day.
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