Northern Ireland to face equal marriage legal challenge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Campaigners in Northern Ireland are paving the way for a legal challenge over the country’s failure to introduce same-sex marriage.

The Rainbow Project said it would aim to settle the matter in the courts, in order to bypass political gridlock.

“Preparations are underway to advance a claim of discrimination,” Gavin Boyd, Policy and Advocacy Manager of the Rainbow Project told BuzzFeed.

“There is a couple that is interested in a test case.”

“The legal challenge as it is planned involves two people who were lawfully married in England returning home to Northern Ireland, where they are no longer considered to be married,” he explained. “We consider that to unlawful, unjust, and unjustifiable.”

Any legal challenge is still at an early stage but similar cases based on human rights legislation have previously led to the legalisation of adoption rights for same-sex couples in the province.

The Democratic Unionist Party has three times voted against attempts to legalise same-sex marriage in the Northern Ireland Assembly – most recently in April.

The DUP has the most MLAs of any party in the Assembly.

Amnesty International has warned the Assembly that it will not be able to block same-sex marriage indefinitely; the group predicts that legality is likely to be settled in the courts, if not by politicians.

Northern Ireland is the only remaining UK nation where same-sex marriage has not been legalised.

Same-sex couples in Scotland will be able to marry in the country by the end of 2014.