Northern Ireland: World-famous drag queen Panti Bliss backs equal marriage campaign

Campaigner calls for law change ahead of march for equality in Belfast

‘I'd love to get married in Belfast. Don’t make me wait too long before you change the law’ – Panti Bliss

Ireland's most famous drag queen, Panti Bliss, is backing the campaign for same-sex civil marriage in Northern Ireland. Panti Bliss, otherwise known as Rory O'Neill, was a high-profile Yes campaigner during the referendum campaign in the Republic of Ireland last month.

Speaking ahead of a major march through Belfast on Saturday in support of marriage equality, Panti Bliss said:

“I'd love to get married in Belfast. So, don't make me wait too long before you change the law up there! Now I just need to find the right Northern man!

“The joy that was felt across the country at the referendum result in the South was an unforgettable experience. That is a joy that I want people in Northern Ireland to share. You know, it's a great feeling to re-invent your country as a place where everyone is equal. Everyone should try it."

“The tide of history is on the side of same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland can't resist that tide of history. 

“It seems clear that most people in Northern Ireland, just like people in the Republic, in England, Scotland and Wales, already support the introduction of same-sex marriage. Now the people are just waiting for their politicians to catch up.

“When those people in Northern Ireland who are still unsure about the idea, see that the introduction of gay marriage didn't destroy society in Scotland or wherever, then I think they will be much more comfortable with it. Especially, when they see that, this is about civil marriage, so it doesn't threaten any religion or church or how they go about their business.

“I hope thousands come out for the big marriage equality march in Belfast next Saturday. People of every age, gender, religion and sexual orientation voted Yes in the Republic and that's who I expect to be on the streets of Belfast calling for equality next weekend.

“Of course, this campaign won't be won in a day, but next Saturday is an important opportunity for ordinary people in Northern Ireland to stand up and be counted for equality. Try it - it's fun!”

The march for civil marriage equality takes place next Saturday in Belfast. Organisers Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project, are asking marchers to assemble outside the Belfast campus of Ulster University from 2:30pm before marching to Belfast City Hall for a rally, where parade organisers are promising top-class entertainment as well as speeches by a diverse range of marriage equality supporters.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“Saturday's march will be a great family day out with very positive message: everyone in this society should be treated equally. 

“We don't want Northern Ireland to be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the right to civil marriage is denied to same sex couples. 

“There is no objective justification for denying access to civil marriage to same sex couples. Allowing lesbian and gay people to get married has no detrimental effect on anyone else’s marriage.

“It's now up to the Northern Ireland Assembly to correct that inequality.”

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