Thousands expected to march for marriage equality in Northern Ireland
Organisers of a march for marriage equality in Northern Ireland are expecting thousands of people to walk through central Belfast tomorrow demanding a change in the law in the region.
Following the Yes vote in last month's Irish referendum, Northern Ireland is now set to be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the right to civil marriage is denied to gay couples.
Speaking in advance of the march and rally, Belfast author Glenn Patterson, who will chair the rally, said:
“The phrase that has been running round my head since the Irish referendum is ‘we will not forsake the blue skies of Ulster for the redorangeyellowgreenblueindogoviolet skies of the Irish Republic… We’ll bring them here!’
“Those rainbow colours, of course, are the colours of Great Britain’s skies as well. Almost all of Europe has shown it supports marriage equality. This Saturday we have the opportunity to say – to our politicians, to anyone with an ear to hear – WE DO too. We do, you know. We do."
Actress Nuala McKeever, who will address the rally, said:
“I’m delighted to be speaking up for freedom and equal treatment for all people. We have a wonderful chance in Northern Ireland to stand up for tolerance and love and to say to our law-makers, 'The days of discriminating against people, based on religious teachings, are over'.
“The value of our democracy, which has been hard won with the sacrifice of many, is the recognition of every individual’s worth. The responsibility of our democracy is to demonstrate that worth in our laws. We do not want a society run on religious-based lines. That is the past. The future is freedom and respect for everyone.”
Other high profile supporters of the campaign include singer, Brian Kennedy and Olympic boxer, Paddy Barnes. Singer Bronagh Gallagher, supported by Quire, Belfast's LGBT choir, will perform at the Belfast City Hall rally, which will follow the march from the Ulster University on York Street.
March 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 on Saturday.