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Northern Ireland want marriage equality too

March 29, 2014 12:11 PM

Today while we celebrate same-sex marriages taking place in England and Wales let us not forget that there are places in the UK where those marriages will not be recognised as such, and where the path to marriage equality still has a long way to go.

Equal Marriage Demo Belfast 28 March 2014 (Stephen Glenn)Yesterday evening seven hours before those same sex marriages became legal a group gathered outside city hall in Belfast to highlight the fact that they are continually being overlooked by one section of Northern Ireland's politicians. Some of the chants that went up will be familiar to campaigners the world over such as "What do we want? Equal marriage! When do we want it? Now!". But another tells the far more telling story of the fight for LGBT equal marriage in Northern Ireland, "In the courts on on the hill, equal marriage yes we will."

The Hill in question is shorthand for the Northern Ireland Assembly which sits in Parliament Building a white building that can be seen for miles around due its prominent position on a hill. But from the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland LGBT equality, with only the exception of civil partnerships, has come through or been taken to the courts. There are currently at different stages adoption and blood ban proceedings going through the Northern Ireland legal process.

However, the group of over 100 who gathered outside city hall yesterday evening were encouraged by car horns going off and passers by shouting their own support as they made their way home for the weekend.

LGBT+ Liberal Democrat exec member and Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats MDO Stephen Glenn said:

"While the people here today know that from midnight they become a little bit less equal, they know that what is happening in England and Wales, shortly in Scotland and potentially after a referendum in Ireland is helping them make their case.

"In recent years the LGBT people of Northern Ireland have seen more and more of their politicians stand up for them and know they are just a handful away from having a majority supporting them in the assembly. It is disappointing that there is yet to be major support from Unionist politicians that reflects the situation that is developing across the rest of the UK, especially as those who have fought for LGBT rights here have from the beginning been from across the traditional divides.

"The fact that any same-sex couple who are married in England and Wales today could honeymoon in or move to Northern Ireland tomorrow and find that they are only in a civil partnership means that all British Subjects are equal, but some in Northern Ireland are more equal that others."