Northern Ireland legalises same-sex marriage

Northern Ireland has joined the rest of the UK in legalising same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples will from Monday be able to register to marry, with the first weddings expected to take place in the week of Valentine’s Day, BBC News has reported.

With England, Scotland, and Wales having legalised same-sex marriage in 2014, the whole UK now has marriage equality.

The unions of couples already married in other jurisdictions will also now be recognised.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International called it “a historic day for equality and human rights in Northern Ireland”.

“For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens,” he said.

“So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal.”

John O’Doherty of the Love Equality campaign said the change in law was a “culmination of five years of campaigning for marriage equality and marks an enormous step forward for LGBT+ people”.

“There remain a number of issues to be addressed before couples in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“However, we celebrate this remarkable achievement with the thousands of people who made their voices heard and demanded change in spite of the many barriers placed in their way.”

Labour MP Conor McGinn said that the government had to legislate for same-sex marriage.

“Everyone who values equality, love and respect can celebrate today,” he said.

“It’s a good day for Northern Ireland, an important day for citizens’ rights across these islands, and an exciting day for same-sex couples who can now register to marry.”

In 2015, Irish people voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in almost 30 countries, including Australia since 2017.

Marriage equality laws are yet to be passed in most of the world, with some countries still criminalising homosexuality.

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