LGBT2

Same-sex marriage is now legally recognised in Northern Ireland, making Monday a historic day for LGBTQ+ rights.

January 13 became the first day that same-sex couples in the country were able to legally register to marry.

Couples must register their intention to marry 28 days before doing so, meaning the first ceremonies will take take place in February.

For those who are already married, their marriage will now be legally recognised in Northern Ireland for the first time.

However, those who are already in a civil partnership will not be able to convert it to marriage at this time.

A consultation about converting civil partnerships and the role of churches in same-sex marriages is set to be carried out by the Northern Ireland Office.

Heterosexual couples will also be able to enter into a civil partnership from Monday.

Northern Ireland has now been brought in line with the rest of the UK.

Same-sex marriages have been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014.

Same-sex marriage was an issue devolved to Stormont, the country’s Assembly, and in November 2015 the body voted in favour of it.

But, a change in the law was blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who used a veto known as the Petition of Concern.

The Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed in 2017, which led to marriage equality campaigners turning their focus on Westminster.

They began campaigning and lobbying MPs in the Houses of Parliament instead and in July 2019, MPs backed amendments which would force the government to allow same-sex marriage and change abortion laws if the devolved Assemble was not restored by October 21, 2019.

An amendment was made to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 by the Labour MP Conor McGinn, calling on 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.

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.

 

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