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Thousands to take part in march for civil marriage equality

Lady Portia Di'Monte (Marcus Neill-Hunter) in Belfast ahead of the marriage equality march and rally. Picture by Hugh Russell

THOUSANDS of people are expected to take part in a march for civil marriage equality in Belfast tomorrow.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains outlawed.

Campaigners are calling for a law change to bring the region into line with elsewhere.

The march is being organised by the Love Equality campaign, led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI.

Celebrities including Liam Neeson, Stephen Fry and Graham Norton called for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland ahead of the demonstration.

Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody and Fall star Bronagh Waugh have also added their voices to the campaign.

Graham Norton and Liam Neeson are supporting the campaign for marriage equality

Saturday's parade in Belfast city centre comes amid an ongoing political dispute on the region's ban on same-sex marriages.

The issue is one of the logjams in the ongoing negotiations to restore powersharing at Stormont, while the DUP opposition to a law change has attracted increased scrutiny across the UK since the party became the government's kingmaker at Westminster.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister will help lead the march through the city, before it arrives at Belfast City Hall.

There, Coleraine-born actor Bronagh Waugh will host a campaign rally at which speakers will include same-sex couples who want to be able to get married in Northern Ireland.

John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said he had been overwhelmed by the messages of support from campaigners, celebrities, politicians and allies.

"Two years ago, 20,000 people took to the streets of Belfast to demand marriage equality - our demands have not changed," he said.

"A majority of people and of elected representatives in Northern Ireland support the introduction of marriage equality. On Saturday, we will once again seek national and international support for our campaign to ensure that love and relationships are celebrated as equal under law - regardless of sexual orientation and gender.

"We call on all those who support the introduction of equal marriage to take to the streets on Saturday, stand with us and demand full civil marriage equality for all."

Fall star Bronagh Waugh will address a rally in Belfast

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