Northern Ireland news

Same-sex couples able to register to marry from today

Marriage equality campaigners in Belfast ahead of the October 21 deadline. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Ryan McAleer

SAME-sex couples are able to register to marry in the north from today.

Couples are required to give 28 days' notice of their intent to form a civil same-sex marriage to the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.

It means that the first same-sex weddings in the north could take place as early as February 10.

It follows the passage of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 at Westminster, which received royal assent on July 24 2019.

The bill had been amended to introduce same-sex marriage and the liberalisation of abortion laws in the north if an executive could not be formed by October 21 2019.

The regulations implementing same-sex marriage were signed off by Secretary of State Julian Smith on December 19.

A majority of MLAs previously voted in favour of same-sex marriage but the move was blocked by a DUP petition of concern.

Amnesty International's director in the north, Patrick Corrigan, described today as “an historic day for equality and human rights”.

He said: “For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens. So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal.

“Today, and the weddings which will follow next month, mark the culmination of years of campaigning and we thank our colleagues in the Love Equality coalition and every supporter who helped make this day a reality.

"That includes a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members who supported the campaign, our champions at Westminster such as Conor McGinn MP and Lord Robert Hayward, and the huge majorities in both Houses who voted for the law change.”

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Northern Ireland news