Northern Ireland news

Same-sex wedding held during Belfast's Culture Night

Malachai O’Hara (left) and Michael McCartan exchange wedding vows before a crowd of hundreds in Belfast. Photograph: Amnesty International

A same-sex wedding ceremony was held as part of Belfast's Culture Night celebrations on Friday.

Malachai O’Hara and Michael McCartan, who have been together for five years, were married on the steps of the Merchant Hotel in what organisers called a Big Fat Gay Wedding.

The ceremony took place to help highlight the fact that same-sex marriage is not legally recognised in Northern Ireland, unlike the Republic and Britain.

Author Glenn Patterson, who officiated at the ceremony, described the event in a blog post for The Guardian.

He wrote: "I had even had myself ordained for the occasion – in the United States, admittedly – by the American Marriage Ministries (AMM).

"The AMM has but three tenets, the first of which states that all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry. In this, it puts most of the churches in Northern Ireland to shame."

Mr Patterson said the ceremony was attended by several hundred people and called on politicians here to back a change in the law to make same-sex marriage legal in the north.

"Politicians in Northern Ireland are like politicians the world over," he said. "They want only one thing from us: our vote.

"Our message should be simple: no (wedding) rings, no votes."

Around 20,000 people took part in a march through Belfast in June to demand a change in Northern Ireland law to allow same-sex civil marriage.


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