The landmark legal challenge to Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage will open today.
Two same-sex couples, Gráinne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kanem, were granted permission to judicially review the Stormont Assembly’s refusal to legalise same-sex marriage.
They were the first two couples in Northern Ireland to enter into civil partnerships when Northern Ireland introduced the law in 2005. The landmark case will be heard before Mr Justice Treacy at Belfast High Court starting today.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director explained the monumental importance of these cases. “Success in this case could have positive implications for thousands of other couples in Northern Ireland.
“Following the repeated failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate for marriage equality, couples have been forced into the courtroom to demand equal treatment before the law.
“It is unacceptable that they have been obliged to sue the Government in order to have what the rest of society takes for granted – for the State to recognise their right to get married,” he said.
“With politicians having abdicated their responsibility to deliver equal treatment for same-sex couples, it is now over to the courts.”
The issue of same-sex marriage has been debated in Stormont five times. Failing the first four times, on the fifth a majority of MLAs voted in favour of marriage equality. However, DUP members who opposed it’s introduction submitted a petition to veto the decision.
Since the Republic of Ireland’s historic passing of the same-sex marriage referendum in May, Northern Ireland now is the only country in the British Isles where gay people cannot marry.
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