It seems our lesbian & gay family in Northern Ireland will have to wait even longer to enjoy same-sex marriage after Northern Ireland’s High Court ruled to keep the ban in place.
Despite same-sex marriage being legal in England, Wales and Scotland, Northern Ireland is the only nation within the UK that doesn’t allow its gay and lesbian couples to get married. Instead, gay couples are only permitted to have Civil Partnerships, which are legally different to marriages.
Two cases, specifically about Northern Ireland recognising same-sex marriage made outside the nation were rejected by the High Court. This means, even if a same-sex couple is married anywhere else in the UK, their marriage will not be valid in Northern Ireland.
The two cases were heard together, due to the legal similarities. The first was known as Petition X, and was brought by a gay couple who were married in London in 2014. When they moved to Northern Ireland their marriage was changed to a Civil Partnership.
The second case was brought by two couples in civil partnerships – Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane. They contended the ban breaches their human rights.
Both cases were rejected by Mr Justice O’Hara who said the ban did not violate the rights of gay and lesbian couples. He added that it was for the nation’s politicians to decide social policy in Northern Ireland.
Delivering the verdict the Judge said,
“It is not at all difficult to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage,
“The judgement which I have to reach is not based on social policy but on the law.”
The subject of same-sex marriage has been voted on five times by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Each time it was blocked by the DUP, the party Theresa May is relying on for her parliamentary majority after the General Election provided a slim majority for the Tories.