Thousands expected on Belfast march for marriage equality

Lord Mayor to lead march to rally at Belfast City Hall

Thousands of people are expected to take part in a march for civil marriage equality in Belfast this Saturday (1 July).

Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK or Ireland without equal marriage laws, despite widespread public support and a majority in favour within the Assembly. Campaigners are calling for a law change to bring the region into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

The march is being organised by the Love Equality campaign, led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister will help to lead the march through the city centre, before arrival at Belfast City Hall, where Coleraine-born actor Bronagh Waugh (The Fall, Hollyoaks) will host a campaign rally. Speakers will include same-sex couples who want to be able to get married in Northern Ireland.

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, and one of the organisers of the Love Equality march, said:

“We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from campaigners, celebrities, politicians and allies across these islands and beyond over recent weeks. Two years ago, 20,000 people took to the streets of Belfast to demand marriage equality - our demands have not changed. 

“A majority of people and of elected representatives in Northern Ireland support the introduction of marriage equality. On Saturday, we will once again seek national and international support for our campaign to ensure that love and relationships are celebrated as equal under law - regardless of sexual orientation and gender. 

“We call on all those who support the introduction of equal marriage to take to the streets on Saturday, stand with us and demand full civil marriage equality for all.”

The equal marriage march will take place in Belfast on Saturday 1 July, with marchers assembling at Writers’ Square in Belfast from 2:30pm, with the march due to start at 3pm, culminating in a rally in front of Belfast City Hall, expected to start at 3:15pm.

Solidarity demonstrations are being held in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff this weekend, organised by Stonewall, Amnesty International, the TUC, Welsh TUC and National Union of Students, to coincide with the Belfast march.

  • Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK or Ireland where marriage of same-sex couples is not allowed by law.
  • Couples who are legally married in other parts of the UK or Ireland are not recognised as married under Northern Ireland law – they are only recognised as being in a civil partnership.
  • There have been five votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly calling for the introduction of marriage equality in Northern Ireland. With the most recent vote (November 2015), proponents of marriage equality won a majority for the first time. However, the DUP lodged a petition of concern to veto the majority vote. 
  • Since the Northern Ireland Assembly election of March 2017, campaigners estimate that almost two-thirds of MLAs now support equal marriage legislation, but it could still be blocked by a petition of concern.
  • Numerous polls show that most people in Northern Ireland support marriage equality (e.g. 70% support among NI public, according to Ipsos MORI survey, June 2016).

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