Marriage equality campaigners have confirmed the first same-sex marriages will take place in Northern Ireland on Valentine’s Day.
The long-awaited legalisation of same-sex marriages in the region is finally set to come into effect on January 13. Couples then must wait the standard 28 day waiting period after submitting their notice of intention to marry.
This will mean February 14 – Valentine’s Day – is the date the first same-sex couples can tie the knot.
Patrick Corrigan is Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International and also part of the Love Equality campaign group. He said he was “looking forward to the sound of Valentine’s Day wedding bells.”
“There could be no more fitting date for Northern Ireland’s first same-sex weddings than Valentine’s Day, the feast of love,” he said.
“We are now working closely with Government ministers and officials to ensure that the legislative obligations are met, in time and in full.
“Couples here can [then] start to enjoy the same rights as elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.”
Corrigan thanked everyone who supported and worked on the marriage equality campaign. He praised MP Conor McGinn, who introduced the marriage equality bill to parliament.
Northern Ireland Office Minister Lord Duncan of Springbank also confirmed the February 14 date in a speech to the House of Lords.
Why doesn’t Northern Ireland have same-sex marriage yet?
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage is still illegal. The UK government passed marriage equality in 2013.
Ireland legalised same-sex marriage in a 2015 referendum, becoming the first country in the world to do so by popular vote.
But Northern Ireland has its own, separate legislature. In January 2017, a dispute between the major parties caused the collapse of the Northern Ireland government.
The region has been without an Executive since then and Britain’s parliament has made key decisions in the interim.
And in July, MPs voted 383 to 73 on a bill to extend marriage equality to Northern Ireland.
Advocates called the move “a huge step forward” for LGBTIQ equality after years of campaigning.
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