Same-sex marriage campaigners call for law change in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is banned

Michael McHugh,David Young
Sunday 02 July 2017 00:33
comments
Campaigners march through Belfast in support of same-sex marriage
Campaigners march through Belfast in support of same-sex marriage

Marriage equality campaigners have predicted victory in Northern Ireland as they called for action from the country's deadlocked politicians.

It is the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is banned.

Demonstrators said any new government must be for all the country's people as thousands thronged Belfast city centre on Saturday in a colourful and noisy parade.

Gay rights activists, trade unionists, civil servants, firemen, drag queens and same-sex couples turned out for a procession to the City Hall bedecked with rainbow flags and banners.

Campaigners call for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland at a parade and rally in Belfast City centre

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister, Northern Ireland-born The Fall actor Bronagh Waugh and Rainbow Project director John O'Doherty led demonstrators.

Mr O'Doherty told political leaders nice words at election time were not enough, saying: “We need action.

“Action to make communities safe, action to make schools safe, an over-arching commitment from all the public institutions to addressing the historical and current inequalities which prevent Northern Ireland from being the society that we all want it to be.”

It is one sticking point delaying the formation of a new devolved powersharing government at Stormont.

Mr O'Doherty alluded to the shift in public opinion, on Friday Germany became the latest country to vote for gay marriage.

“Together we are the future of Northern Ireland. We are the progressive majority and those who oppose us will lose, just like they did every time before.

“When we win this battle do not think that we are done. This campaign is not just about changing the law, we are about changing the world.”

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill (L) and party president Gerry Adams (R) join campaigners

Anne Madden, 41, entered a civil partnership with Heather two years ago.

She said: “My relationship is called something different to what my next door neighbour's is called.

"I would have preferred to have a marriage than a civil partnership than go to the trouble of converting it if that happens in future years.”

She added: “What this is about is equality. I pay my taxes like everyone else so why should I not enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else has?”

A Unitarian minister, the Rev Chris Hudson from All Souls Church in South Belfast, clutched a banner in support of same-sex marriage on the steps of St Anne's Church of Ireland Cathedral.

The main Christian churches in Northern Ireland believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Rev Hudson said some ministers strongly favoured equal marriage and the status quo harshly discriminated against him because he could not marry a same sex couple. He appealed to the DUP not to block any bid to legalise it.

“I hope the next time round that the Holy Spirit will descend upon them and we will see that it is fair, that it functions well in every other part of the UK, why should Northern Ireland be any different?”

Gay rights campaigners take part in a march through Belfast on 1 July to protest against the ban on same-sex marriage

Titty von Tramp, a drag queen, wore a heavy necklace, thick red lipstick and a revealing outfit at the rally. Her top proclaimed “equality” and she brandished a megaphone to noisily drive home the message.

She told politicians: “Don't forget about me and my gay brothers and sisters, we are here and we are not going away.”

Ms McAllister attended with her son Finn, who is 10 months old, and said she hoped to see marriage equality in the city soon.

This was her first rally as Lord Mayor, the cross-community Alliance Party councillor was elected a month ago, and she said her son was having a good time.

“He loves all the people and he especially loves all the colours," she added.

Press Association

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments