Northern Ireland’s LGBTIQ community have cheered the country’s same-sex marriage laws finally coming into effect.
The reform came into force at the stroke of midnight on Monday (October 21), UK time. That was the moment a deadline elapsed for conservative lawmakers to stop the legislation put in place by MPs in London.
Northern Ireland has a separate government to the rest of Britain. However in January 2017, a dispute caused the governing assembly to collapse. Instead, the British 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. This finally brings Northern Ireland into line with England, Wales and Scotland.
Stonewall’s Paul Twocock said it was a “historic moment” for Northern Ireland.
“We’re so thrilled that finally same-sex marriage will become a reality in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“After many years of tireless campaigning, this huge moment of celebration is testament to the ongoing work of our partners at the Love Equality campaign.
“LGBT people in Northern Ireland have waited for too long for marriage equality. We can’t wait to see same-sex couples across Northern Ireland marrying the person they love.”
— Kevin Scott (@Kscott_94) October 21, 2019
Same-sex marriage to begin for Valentine’s Day
But the same-sex weddings aren’t beginning just yet. Authorities will put regulations in place for same-sex couples by January 13.
Then, couples must wait the standard 28 day waiting period after submitting their notice of intention to marry.
“This means at the latest, the first civil same-sex marriages will take place on the week of Valentine’s Day 2020,” Secretary of State Julian Smith told parliament.
MPs also voted to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland in a separate vote in July. That amendment also came into effect on October 21, with regulations due by March 2020.
Same-sex marriage and abortion are already legal in England, Wales and Scotland.
Ireland legalised same-sex marriage in a 2015 referendum, becoming the first country in the world to do so by popular vote.
Early celebrations at the Merchant Hotel among same-sex couples and campaigners of the Love Equality campaign ahead of the law changing at midnight following Westminster legislation which will require government to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland. pic.twitter.com/oi3qQAXaiK
— Rebecca Black (@RBlackPA) October 21, 2019
We’re so proud to be surrounded by some of the people, couples and campaigners who have brought us to this point.
Thank you to everyone who has told their stories to help us reach this milestone. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/51F875nNHm
— Love Equality NI (@Love_EqualityNI) October 21, 2019
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