Same-sex couples gather in Belfast to celebrate the arrival of equal marriage and abortion legislation

Campaigners met in Belfast today to celebrate the imminent passing of new laws which will legislate for equal marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

Belfast campiagners equal marriage

Same-sex couples and marriage equality campaigners gathered in Belfast today (October 21) at lunchtime ahead of the midnight deadline, which will see equal marriage rights extended to Northern Ireland. The event is organised by Love Equality, which led the successful campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Following passage of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act in July, if no Northern Ireland Executive has been re-established by the end of Monday, October 21, the UK government is legally obliged to legislate on abortion and make marriage available to same-sex couples in the region, the last part of the UK or Ireland to win the right.

The deadline for the new same-sex marriage law to come into force is February 14 2020, and the date by which full abortion regulations must be implemented is March 2020, with some elements happening sooner.

Abortion will be decriminalised and women currently facing criminal trial will have their prosecutions dropped from October 22 this year.

Belfast campiagners equal marriage

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, a member of the Love Equality campaign, said:

“After years of campaigning, marriage equality in Northern Ireland is finally about to become a reality.

“This is an incredible moment for so many people, especially for those couples who will now be treated as equal citizens in their own country.

Belfast campiagners equal marriage

“Within a few short months, same-sex couples here will be tying the knot. That is a great cause for celebration, for them, their families and for all who have led and supported this campaign for equality.”

In Belfast today, as a last-ditch attempt to stop the introduction of the new laws on abortion and equal marriage, 31 Unionist MLAs signed a petition calling for Stormont to reconvene its power-sharing agreement.

The restoration requires the backing of the largest national party Sinn Féin who branded the meeting a “pantomime” and have said they will not attend.

This makes the Unionist’s prospects of reestablishing a Government today an impossibility.

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