Same-sex marriage court cases: Campaigners vow to continue fight

Henry Flanagan-Kane and partner Christopher Flanagan-Kane leaving the High Court in Belfast with Shannon Sickles and partner Grainne Close. The couples took cases against the north's ban on same-sex marriage. Picture by Hugh Russell

EQUAL marriage campaigners have vowed to continue their fight after a judge dismissed two cases challenging the north's ban on same-sex unions.

Grainne Teggart, from the Love Equality campaign, said the judge's decision yesterday was "disappointing".

"It is unacceptable that same sex couples can marry in the rest of the UK, but not in Northern Ireland," she said.

"We know that the majority of people in Northern Ireland want to live in a country where unequal laws are consigned to the history books. It's time politicians reflected the will of the people and urgently legislate for equality."

Nationalist politicians and the Alliance said the fight for marriage equality will continue.

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw said equal marriage could be brought about if the controversial petition of concern - which has been used by the DUP to block marriage rights - was reformed.

"We're not trying to give the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community extra rights, just the same rights as everyone else and I know there will be great disappointment and anger among the LGBT community at this outcome," she said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the north's laws are at odds with the situation in the rest of Europe and said the LGBT community had been hurt by the collapse of power-sharing.

"The LGBT community is not a punching bag to be hit again and again," he said.

"Reform of the petition of concern can unlock this and so many other issues. Let those who claim to be democrats put down the weapons of veto and vitriol. It's time to resolve this."

North Belfast MLA, Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín, said same-sex marriage should have been introduced "a long time ago".

"The ongoing denial of rights by the DUP, with the support of the British government, which are enjoyed by citizens right across these islands is unacceptable," she said.

"This is an issue which is at the heart of the current political crisis."

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