'Historic day' as same-sex couples can register to marry in Northern Ireland for the first time

Same-sex couples who register to marry in Northern Ireland today will be able to tie the knot on or after February 10.

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Amnesty International has deemed today “historic” for Northern Ireland as, for the first time, same-sex couples can register to marry in Northern Ireland.

From today, January 13, couples will be able to register notice of their intent to marry in the form of a same-sex civil marriage to the General Register Office for Northern Ireland.

The first same-sex weddings are expected to take place on February 10, 2020, following the minimum period of notice of 28 days.

In July, 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 2019.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, which played a leading role in the successful campaign, said:

“This is an historic day for equality and human rights in Northern Ireland.

“For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens. So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal.

“Today, and the weddings which will follow next month, mark the culmination of years of campaigning and we thank our colleagues in the Love Equality coalition and every supporter who helped make this day a reality. That includes a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members who supported the campaign, our champions at Westminster such as Conor McGinn MP and Lord Robert Hayward, and the huge majorities in both Houses who voted for the law change.

“We also want to thank Ministers in the NIO, particularly the Secretary of State Julian Smith, Lord Ian Duncan, and their officials, who have worked with us to give effect to the law within a tight timetable.

“In the absence of devolved government, we took our campaign to Westminster and won equal rights there. Now with devolution restored, the new Executive at Stormont must prove that is ready and willing to provide a rights-respecting government for all who live here.”

The Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church have stated that they will not perform same-sex union ceremonies following the passing of marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

In contrast, All Souls Church, a non-subscribing Presbyterian Church, confirmed they would support same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Moderator of the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland and Minister of All Souls, Rev Chris Hudson, expressed disappointment towards churches refusing to host same-sex weddings. He said, “It is important to put in place immediately the option for churches to opt-in or stay out of marriage equality.”

Despite the Catholic Church expressing to the Belfast Telegraph concerns over the “redefinition” of marriage, there was no explicit statement made about whether they would perform same-sex ceremonies.

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