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Northern Ireland marches towards marriage equality

The streets of Belfast were awash with the rainbow colours of Pride today, as thousands of demonstrators marched to demand the introduction of equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

The march was hosted by the Love Equality coalition, a group made up of charities and organisations supporting LGBT rights. A number of celebrities with connections to Northern Ireland have voiced their support, including Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt and Graham Norton.

Actress Bronagh Waugh took to the stage to address the crowd: “Together we can and we will get change. We will achieve unimaginable change. We can do it! Thank you for coming out today. Keep the word, support the love, spread the love, because love is love is love.”

T-shirts emblazoned with ‘#gayisok,’ and banners demanding ‘time for equal civil marriage’ filled the streets, alongside placards saying simply: ‘love is a human right.’

Love Equality Northern Ireland march

The Rainbow Project, a group promoting the health and wellbeing of LGBT people in Northern Ireland, is one of the organisations involved in Love Equality. Their director John O’Doherty said: “We have campaigned tirelessly for five years on this issue and we will continue to do everything in our power to achieve marriage equality.”

In 2015, over 20,000 people turned out for the Rally for Equal Civil Marriage, making history with one of the biggest demonstrations of its kind.

As a new UK government is being formed, political tensions are high around Northern Ireland’s LGBT rights. John O’Doherty said: “The beginning of new governments in the UK and possibly in Northern Ireland is the perfect opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland - and our allies across the UK - to highlight what they expect their government to enact during their mandate.”

Northern Ireland is now the only place in the UK or Ireland where a same sex couple cannot marry, despite the Northern Ireland assembly voting in favour of gay marriage equality in 2015. The Democratic Unionists vetoed a change to the law.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: “Marriage equality in Northern Ireland is a litmus test for whether or not any future government is committed to treating all citizens of this country equally. No backroom politics can be allowed to stand in the way of equality.”

Whatever the impact of today’s march, Love Equality has promised to continue lobbying politicians, and bringing forward legal cases to achieve full marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

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about 3 years ago

Thank you Lush for reporting on this! as an LGBT person in NI I appreciate it ❤