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Will courts finally bring same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland?

Nick Duffy December 2, 2015
MPs vote equal marriage northern Ireland

Thousands of people take part in a march and rally calling for legislation for same-sex marriage on June 13, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

Activists in Northern Ireland are holding out hope that a court will rule in favour of equal marriage, after legislation on the issue was blocked.

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland – but Northern Ireland’s DUP has used peace powers to veto the issue despite a parliamentary majority in favour.

A marriage bill was passed last month by a vote of 53-52, only for the party to override the assembly using a ‘petition of concern’.

Belfast’s High Court is this week hearing a case revolving around the ban.

In a lawsuit, same-sex couples argue that Northern Ireland is in violation of human rights laws by refusing to recognise equal marriage.

Laura McMahon, lawyer for two couples, will argue that to bar equal marriage is a fundamental discrimination of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said: “This case is hugely significant. Success in this case could have positive implications for thousands of other couples in Northern Ireland.

“Following the repeated failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate for marriage equality, couples have been forced into the courtroom to demand equal treatment before the law.

“It is unacceptable that they have been obliged to sue the government in order to have what the rest of society takes for granted – for the State to recognise their right to get married.

“With politicians having abdicated their responsibility to deliver equal treatment for same-sex couples, it is now over to the Courts.”

More: civil partnership, civil union, equal marriage, Gay, gay weddings, lesbian, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish, same sex weddings, Union, wedding

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