Two women will make history with first same-sex wedding in Northern Ireland

After the monumental passing of marriage equality and abortion rights, two women will have the first same-sex wedding in Northern Ireland.

Couple kissing in front of Lyra McKee mural in Belfast, celebrating their upcoming wedding as Northern Ireland's first same-sex marriage.

Two women are set to make history as their wedding on February 11 marks the first marriage between same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. 

Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, had originally booked February 11 for a civil partnership ceremony. Following the landmark legalisation of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, they have kept the date but turned it into a wedding. 

The couple’s marriage ceremony will take place on their sixth anniversary together. Speaking to the National, Peoples said, “We didn’t set out to be the first or have all this attention, but we are grateful to be able to set the way for the rest of our community.”

Edwards told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “The feeling is indescribable. We’re very humbled, especially to be the first from our community, knowing how hard thousands and thousands of people fought for this.”

In July 2019, Parliament voted to pass the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act, which obliges the Government to act if the devolved Northern Ireland Executive has not been re-established by October 21. Once the clock struck midnight on the day, campaigners and the LGBT+ community erupted into celebration as same-sex marriage and abortion were legalised in the North. 

Though campaigners were expecting the first same-sex marriage to occur on Valentines Day, Edwards and Peoples are paving the way forward with their own meaningful and personal date. Edwards further stated to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We just wanted to go ahead and celebrate our love and not be held back any more. It’s kind of fate that this has happened.”

Honouring journalist and vocal campaigner for same-sex marriage, Lyra McKee, the couple shared a poignant moment together in front of a Belfast mural dedicated to the writer. Speaking to BBC News NI, Peoples said, “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone in Northern Ireland who has made this possible for us. Behind the scenes, everyone who’s marched, everyone who’s emailed, petitions, everything. We just want to say thank you.”

Though the couple’s marriage signifies a monumental occasion for the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland, there is still further work required as the British government currently oversees consultations on same-sex religious marriages and how couples can convert civil partnerships into marriages. The process is running until February 23 and further changes will be made regarding the response from these sessions.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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