No rights breach in two men's English marriage refused status in NI

Legal setback for same sex marriage in NI

A gay couple whose marriage in England is only recognised as a civil partnership in their native Northern Ireland have suffered no human rights breach, a High Court judge has ruled.

The two men claimed they were subjected to discrimination by having their relationship "downgraded".

But Mr Justice O'Hara found there had been no violation under European law.

He said: "The Strasbourg court has held that same-sex marriage is not even a (European) Convention right.

"While it's open to government and parliament to provide for it, they are not obliged to do so and whether they do so is a matter for them, not the courts."

Granted anonymity in the case, the petitioner 'X' and his husband wed in London in September 2014.

But under current laws they can only be classified as civil partners in Northern Ireland.

They were seeking a declaration that their marriage remains

fully constituted throughout the UK.

Lawyers for X and his husband claimed their rights to privacy and family life, religious freedom and entitlement to marry under the European Convention on Human Rights have all been violated.

The petition, backed by gay rights group The Rainbow Project, was taken against the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Government.

They insisted the case differed from the separate legal bid of two same sex couples - Grainne Close, her partner Shannon Sickles, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane - to have the same-sex marriage laws extended to Northern Ireland.

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