Northern Ireland’s rainbow community is finally celebrating the legalisation of same-sex marriage, after over a decade of fighting for the same rights as the rest of the United Kingdom.
The new law which was passed by the U.K Parliament follows over a decade of attempting to move forward on the Civil Partnership legislation that had been in place since 2005.
The legislation which is apart of the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Act of 2019, ordered the region’s Secretary of State to enact marriage equality if the dissolved Northern Ireland Assembly failed to form a working government by the end of Monday the 21st of October 2019.
Along with instating marriage equality, the legislation also legalises abortion, and includes a transition period until January, with the first marriages set to be registered on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020.
Following the announcement, celebrations were held in Northern Ireland to mark what Paul Twocock, who is the Chief Executive of LGBTQ rights group Stonewall, called “a historic moment.”
“LGBT people in Northern Ireland have waited for too long for marriage equality and we can’t wait to see same-sex couples across Northern Ireland marrying the person they love,” said Twocock.
Also praising the move, Love Equality NI – which also campaigned for marriage equality, tweeted, “Thank you to everyone who has told their stories to help us reach this milestone.”
The legislation has been described as “The beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland” with Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager, saying it will be an era “in which we’re free from oppressive laws that have policed our bodies and healthcare.”
Despite polls showing that almost 80% of the Northern Irish supported the legalisation, attempts to legalise marriage equality in Northern Ireland had been halted thanks to the Democratic Unionist Party consistently vetoing any proposed legislation.