Two gay couples in Northern Ireland will legally challenge the country’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In 2005, Northern Ireland became the first country in the United Kingdom to legalise civil partnerships for same-sex couples, however ten years on it is the only country in the UK that does not yet have marriage equality.
Two couples who entered into civil partnerships ten years ago – Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane – will be filing a High Court challenge to the marriage ban.
Close wrote on her Facebook page,
“Our barrister, Laura McMahon, will argue that to bar equal marriage is a fundamental discrimination of our rights under the European convention on human rights, which is without justification.
“This is not about Shannon and I wanting the right to walk up the aisle in St Mary’s Church, Ahoghill (that notion left me along time ago!).
“We are being denied a basic human right. …
“The fact that we have to stand in a different queue from opposite sex peers when it comes to having our relationship recognised by the State is itself indicative that we are treated differently.”
The Northern Ireland Assembly recently rejected a proposal calling for marriage equality after debating the issue for a fourth time. As a response, thousands marched the streets of Belfast in mid-June to push for same-sex marriage.
The march, organised in part by by Amnesty International was attended by almost 20,000 people.
Patrick Corrigan, of Amnesty told journalists on the day, “Marriage equality is a human rights issue. Human rights are very clear on the issue of equality. Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.
“So it is simply unacceptable for the state to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
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