The North is Today! Abortion and equal marriage are now legal in Northern Ireland

Restrictive laws in Northern Ireland on equal marriage and abortion were lifted when the clock struck 12 last night and campaigners are still celebrating.

Northern Ireland marriage equality celebrations
Image: Liam McBurney/PA

It’s a day for the history books for Northern Ireland as the entire island of Ireland now has same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

The ban on same-sex marriage and abortion rights was lifted at midnight last night just over a year after the 8th amendment was repealed in the Republic of Ireland.

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.

Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020, will be the date of the first same-sex weddings in Northern Ireland, Love Equality campaigners have confirmed with UK Government Ministers.

The legalisation of same-sex marriages in the region is due to come into effect on January 13 2020, and with couples having to wait the standard 28 days to elapse after they submit their notice of intention to marry, the first same-sex weddings are expected to be celebrated on Valentine’s Day.

Campaigners and same-sex couples gathered across Northern Ireland to celebrate with pictures of couples getting engaged as the changes came into effect appearing on social media.


The Northern Ireland Bill delivers long-awaited abortion law reform, including decriminalisation. This will stop women being prosecuted for accessing abortion and introduce a suspension for current cases.

The law also states that Westminster must introduce regulations which will bring Northern Ireland’s abortion law into line with human rights standards outlined by the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by March 31 2020.

Claire Brophy and Emma Allen from Abortion Rights Campaign said: “Free, safe, and legal abortion access on the island of Ireland has been a goal of the abortion rights campaign since our founding in 2012.

“The success of the repeal movement last year was made possible with the support and solidarity of our siblings in the North. Northern Ireland is now an outlier for its lack of abortion access, and this situation must now end. We are proud to stand with our siblings in Northern Ireland who deserve access to the same rights as everyone else on this island.”

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