Thousands march for marriage equality in Northern Ireland

An estimated crowd of up to twenty thousand people marched through Belfast today demanding a change in the law to allow same-sex marriage in the region. The march was organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project.

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. 

Addressing the rally, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said:

“Isn't this the most beautiful march and rally Belfast has ever seen? A march about love.

“We are all here today because of a simple idea: all people are equal. The State should treat all people equally.

“Marriage equality is a human rights issue. Human rights are very clear on the issue of equality. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.

“So it is simply unacceptable for the State to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Amnesty International believes that states should end discrimination on this basis and instead ensure that all families are equally protected before the law.

“That's why we are on the march today and why we will walk every step of the way with you and the LGBTI community, and why we will not stop until every one of us can enjoy the same rights and recognition before the law."

Singer Bronagh Gallagher, supported by Quire, Belfast's LGBT choir, performed at the Belfast City Hall rally, which was also attended by Gary Lightbody of band Snow Patrol.

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