A fundraising campaign to support the judicial review for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland has been launched. The legal challenge has been made by the UK’s first civilly married couples; Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, and Henry and Chris Flannagan-Kane in an effort to extend civil marriage equality to Northern Ireland.
Their challenge to Northern Ireland’s equality ban was denied in August 2017 by the High Court in Belfast. An appeal has since been lodged and they are anticipating a hearing in Northern Ireland’s Court of Appeal in early 2019. The application specifically challenges the legislative provision which prevents same-sex couples from marrying.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted on same-sex marriage five times since 2012. In 2015 for the first time ever, the Assembly voted in favour of same-sex marriage by a very slim margin. However, this result was vetoed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) through a Petition of Concern, preventing the motion from having any legal effect.
Under Northern Ireland’s Constitution, same-sex marriage may always be vetoed through a Petition of Concern and, as a result, a legal challenge is the only way marriage equality will ever be permitted.
This case, which is only concerned with civil marriage and not religious marriage, is crucial to the future of equal rights in Northern Ireland. If successful, all couples in Northern Ireland will be able to apply to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation.
The applicants are liable for all legal fees in this case. As it is likely the case will reach the Supreme Court, it is expected the legal fees will reach £30,000. Any contribution made to the fundraising campaign will be used directly on the legal challenge to support the judicial review for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland has been launched.
As it stands, Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK and Ireland where same-sex couples cannot get married.
If you are interested in contributing to the campaign, details can be found here.
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