Northern Ireland: thousands to march to demand marriage equality

UK Government must end denial of rights in Northern Ireland

“The rights to abortion and equal marriage should not rely on postcodes” - Patrick Corrigan

Mass rally will be led by Belfast Lord Mayor and speakers will include Conor McGinn MP, Repeal The 8th campaign leader Ailbhe Smyth and actor Bronagh Waugh

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Belfast this Saturday (2 June) to call on the Prime Minister Theresa May to legislate for marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

The march – led by the Love Equality campaign – will take place across central Belfast and will be led by the City’s Lord Mayor Councillor, Nuala McAllister. It will end with a mass rally in front of City Hall, hosted by Belfast actor Bronagh Waugh.

The protest comes amidst intensifying calls on Theresa May to reform Northern Ireland’s inhumane abortion laws, and will put further pressure on the prime minister to meet the UK Government’s human rights obligations in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where equal marriage is currently outlawed.

Patrick Corrigan, Head of Nations and Regions at Amnesty UK, said:

“It’s nonsensical that the Government is denying the people of Northern Ireland the same rights as everyone else in the UK. The rights to abortion and equal marriage should not rely on postcodes.

“There can be no second-class citizens in the UK. It’s now time for Theresa May and the UK Government to ensure the people of Northern Ireland aren’t left behind.

“Saturday’s march will show that Northern Ireland will not be silent until we are equal.”

Speakers at the rally will include:

  • Conor McGinn MP, whose private members’ bill to bring marriage equality to Northern Ireland was blocked last month when a Conservative MP objected to its second reading in Parliament.
  • Ailbhe Smyth, a leader in both the successful Marriage Equality campaign and the recent Repeal the 8th campaign in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.
  • John O’Doherty, a leader in the Love Equality campaign.
  • Paula Keenan and Pauline Dempsey, a same-sex couple denied the right to marry in Northern Ireland. One is from Northern Ireland, the other from the Republic, where they could get married, though their marriage would not be recognised when they return home to Northern Ireland.
  • Anthony Flynn and Cory Quinn, a same-sex couple currently denied the right to marry in Northern Ireland.
  • Shea Love and Brooklyn Burridge, two teenagers from the Cara-Friend LGBT+ youth group in Belfast.
  • Marcus Hunter-Neill, broadcaster and drag entertainer.

The Love Equality campaign for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland is led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and Here NI.

Love Equality rally details:

When: Saturday 2 June 2018, 2:30pm.

Where: The march for marriage equality meets at Writers’ Square before setting off for a rally at Belfast City Hall. At the same time, a rally for marriage equality will be staged in Guildhall Square, Derry/Londonderry.

Spokespeople will be available for interview.

Background:

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland which still bans marriage for same-sex couples, despite majority support among the public and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In November 2015, a majority of MLAs in the Assembly voted to support equal marriage, but the measure was blocked by the DUP using a Petition of Concern, a voting mechanism designed to protect the rights of minorities in Northern Ireland.

An April 2018 Sky News poll showed 76% support for marriage equality amongst the Northern Ireland public. At least 55 out of 90 MLAs in the Assembly have now shown public support for the introduction of marriage equality legislation.

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