Landmark legislation on abortion and equal marriage in Northern Ireland has passed its final stage in the UK Parliament.
Amnesty International – which has been working closely with MPs and peers and campaigning on both issues for many years – heralded the Westminster move as “historic”.
The abortion and equal marriage commitments in the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill will now become law by October 21 this year, unless the Northern Ireland Executive has been re-established by that date.
The deadline for the new same-sex marriage law to come into force is January 2020, and the date by which full abortion regulations must be implemented is March 2020, with some elements happening sooner. Abortion will be decriminalised and women currently facing criminal trial will have their prosecutions dropped from October 22 this year.
BREAKING: The #NorthernIrelandBill has just passed its final stage in Parliament, ending the 158-year-long abortion ban and legalising same-sex marriage
— News From Amnesty (@NewsFromAmnesty) July 22, 2019
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, said:
“This is a historic day for human rights.
“Nowhere on these islands have people had to fight longer and harder for their human rights than in Northern Ireland.
“Future generations in Northern Ireland will no longer have to suffer inequality in the way so many have had to endure in the past.
“Now, Amnesty’s attention will focus on ensuring the speedy implementation of access to healthcare and marriage for people in Northern Ireland.”
Abortion reform for a ‘giant step forward’
The Bill delivers long-awaited abortion law reform, including decriminalisation. This will stop women being prosecuted for accessing abortion and introduce a suspension for current cases.
Human rights history as been made today in Northern Ireland. The bans on abortion and equal marriage will be lifted on 21 October this year! Thanks to everyone that helped make it happen! #TheNorthIsNow #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/SRZPHPtZNP
— Amnesty UK (@AmnestyUK) July 22, 2019
Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager, said:
“Today is a momentous win for women’s rights. Northern Ireland’s 158-year-long abortion ban has finally been brought to an end.
“Abortion will be decriminalised and women currently facing criminal trials will have their prosecutions dropped within a few months.
“These reforms are a giant step forward, and an important recognition of women’s right to healthcare in Northern Ireland.
“After many years of fighting through the courts alongside women such as Sarah Ewart and building cross-party support at Westminster, this is finally the equality we deserve.”
‘Love Wins!’ – Campaigners celebrate as Parliament votes for equal marriage law for Northern Ireland
Campaigners for marriage equality in Northern Ireland are celebrating after the UK Parliament voted through legislation this afternoon which will allow same-sex marriage in the region.
Parliament voted to pass the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Bill, obliges the Government to change the law on October 21st 2019 if the devolved Northern Ireland Executive has not been re-established by that date. The first same-sex marriages should take place before the end of January 2020.
John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, part of the Love Equality coalition, said:
“Love wins! Today that message rang out from Westminster. Being part of this historic campaign over the last eight years is the most important and affirming thing I have ever done – besides marrying my husband.
“Growing up in Maghera I never thought I would see a time where same-sex couples would be, not only accepted but celebrated in Northern Ireland. Today’s important victory is shared with our community, allies and supporters.”
“Unless there is a return of assembly by October, in January 2020 same-sex couples will be able to get married or have their civil partnership upgraded – and I and my partner plan to be one of the first in line.
‘Love wins!’ – campaigners celebrate as Parliament votes for equal marriage for Northern Ireland
NI Bill will now go for Royal Assent
— Love Equality NI (@Love_EqualityNI) July 22, 2019
Cara McCann, director of LGBT+ organisation HereNI, part of the Love Equality coalition, said:
“With relentless positivity, we changed hearts and minds, brought more people to the LGBT civil rights movement and helped platform equal marriage as the rights issue of our generation.
“This win means so much to couples and families like mine, who to date have not been recognised as equals by our government.
“Today, we have ensured that those days of discrimination are now coming to an end.”
Clare Moore, of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, part of the Love Equality coalition, said:
“Today is a day to send thanks to every trade union and trade unionist across Ireland and Britain who have supported this campaign.
“Our work does not end today. In the months ahead, we will be working to ensure marriage is successfully delivered on an equal basis to same-sex and opposite-sex couples in Northern Ireland. That has always been our objective and today we have delivered.”
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