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March for marriage equality in Northern Ireland announced for Belfast

March and rally to be held in Belfast on Saturday 1 July

Campaigners have announced a march in Belfast to demand equal marriage legislation for Northern Ireland. The region is now the only place in the UK or Ireland where same sex marriage is banned.

The march will take place in Belfast on Saturday 1 July, two days after the deadline for the Stormont talks on devolution. It will start at Writers’ Square in Belfast at 2:30pm, culminating in a rally in front of Belfast City Hall.

The march is being organised by the Love Equality coalition, the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. The campaign is led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI. Thousands took part in a similar march in Belfast in June 2015.

The announcement comes against a backdrop of negotiations to form a new UK government, with the issue of the continuing bar on equal marriage in Northern Ireland under intense scrutiny.

With a Stormont talks deadline of June 29 to decide on devolution or direct rule for Northern Ireland, campaigners are calling for whichever government is in charge to deliver equal marriage legislation for Northern Ireland.

John O’Doherty of the Rainbow Project, said:

“It is time for government to respect the will of the people of Northern Ireland, which is overwhelmingly in support of civil marriage equality. This march will be a demonstration of that support, a call for the people to be heard in the corridors of Stormont and of Westminster.

“Support for marriage equality crosses traditional political and religious differences in Northern Ireland, so we call on people of all backgrounds to join us on this great march for equality.”

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said:

“There is now a very clear majority within the Northern Ireland Assembly in favour of marriage equality. But if Stormont is incapable of delivering equality for the people of Northern Ireland then, through direct rule, it is the responsibility of the Westminster government.  

“Marriage equality in Northern Ireland is a litmus test for whether or not any future government is committed to treating all citizens of this country equally. No backroom politics can be allowed to stand in the way of equality. 

“We invite people to join us in their thousands on the march for marriage equality in Belfast on July 1st.” 

Clare Moore of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU), the representative body for 34 trade unions with over 215,000 members across Northern Ireland, the largest civil society organisation in the region, said:

“The Trade Union movement calls on all trade union members to join this march for equality. The public support equal marriage and their voices must be heard and heeded by those who would seek to govern.

“Any new government at Westminster or at Stormont must be a government for all the people of Northern Ireland. That will be our message on July 1st.” 

An Ipsos Mori poll in June 2016 showed 70% of the Northern Ireland public support marriage equality legislation. A significant majority of MLAs in the recently elected Assembly have also expressed their support for a change in the law. The DUP has previously used the ‘petition of concern’ in the Northern Ireland Assembly to block progress on equal marriage despite majority support.

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