Same-sex couples can now register to marry in Northern Ireland

Nick Karvounis via Unsplash

Northern Ireland finally has marriage equality.

From Monday (13 January), same-sex couples will be able register to marry, with the first ceremonies expected to take place in February.

Couples who are already married will now have their marriage legally recognised in the country.

Same-sex couples who are already in a civil partnership will not be able to convert it to a marriage yet, with a Northern Ireland Office consultation on the issue set to begin later this year.

Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill celebrated the historic moment on Twitter, writing: “As of today, Marriage Equality is legal in the North as LGBTQ+ citizens can register their intent to marry.

“Today belongs to you, the people. It belongs to all of you that have campaigned relentlessly for LGBTQ+ rights for decades. This is an historic day for equality.”

The changes to law bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014, and the Republic of Ireland, who introduced marriage equality in 2015.

Straight couples will also be able to enter civil partnerships from today.

John O’Doherty from the Love Equality campaign told BBC News that the moment was the “culmination of five years of campaigning for marriage equality and marks an enormous step forward for LGBT+ people”.

He continued: “There remain a number of issues to be addressed before couples in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those in other jurisdictions.

“However, we celebrate this remarkable achievement with the thousands of people who made their voices heard and demanded change in spite of the many barriers placed in their way.”

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