Northern Ireland news

Belfast mural depicts Northern Ireland lesbian couple kissing

Joe Caslin's mural features an embrace between a Belfast couple. Picture by Hugh Russell
Gareth McKeown

A HUGE mural depicting a local married lesbian couple has been unveiled in the heart of Belfast.

The five-storey mural situated in the Cathedral Quarter on Hill Street beside the Dirty Onion bar is the work of street artist Joe Caslin who shot to fame last year for creating a similar mural in Dublin depicting a male couple embracing.

The Belfast mural features two local women and coincides with the start of Belfast Pride.

The couple travelled to America last year to get married, as the law in Northern Ireland prevents them from doing so.

As part of Ireland's largest LGBT festival kerbstones have been painted in the colours of the rainbow at the corner of Donegall Street and Union Street. 

Belfast Pride began on Friday July 29 and runs until Sunday August 7.

Mr Caslin said: "I'd love to see same sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland, that's really the crux of it."

Last June up to 20,000 campaigners marched through Belfast city centre demanding a change in the law.

However, Northern Ireland's devolved Stormont Assembly has repeatedly refused to legislate on the contentious issue.

Although a slim majority of MLAs voted in favour of lifting the ban when it was debated for a fifth time last November, the proposal fell when the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deployed a controversial voting mechanism to effectively veto it.

Those opposed to gay marriage argue that same sex couples already have the ability to enter into civil partnerships and claim there is no appetite for further change.

The contentious matter is also being contested through the courts where two same sex couples have challenged the current law under human rights legislation.

Mr Caslin has argued gay people in Northern Ireland should have the same right to civil marriage as those living elsewhere.

He added: "In the Republic the question was put to the population who overwhelmingly voted yes and I believe that same question should be put to the people of Northern Ireland.

"If love is there it is one of the most basic connections of the human race and when you find it, you have to mind it."

The artist said he was captivated by the "love and spark" between the two women, whom he has chosen not to name adding: "This mural is tender and dignified and showcases the love that's there.

"There is no negativity in it at all.

"Belfast has an amazing culture of murals - first there were the political murals and then came the peace murals but it's now time for other things to be said.

"The city is moving into a new space - it is amazing and vibrant and it is great to be a part of that."

The mural has been put up to mark Belfast Pride which, this year, has the theme, We Are One.

 Belfast Pride 2016 has begun

A host of posters, featuring testimonials from members of the LGBT have also appeared as part of Smirnoff's #Lovewins campaign for the festival.

Special posters with testimonials from members of the LGBT community have appeared in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

Belfast Pride began on Friday July 29 and runs until Sunday August 7.

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

Same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since March 2014 while in Scotland the first gay weddings took place on December 31, 2014.

In May 2015 the Republic became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through popular vote. 62 per cent voted in favour of marriage equality in the landmark referendum.

An LGBT poster, part of Smirnoff's #Lovewins campaign. Picture by Hugh Russell

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