Amnesty: Northern Ireland’s ban on equal marriage will be challenged in 2015

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage will be challenged in 2015, Amnesty International has predicted.

On 31 December, the same day Scotland saw its first same-sex marriages, Amnesty’s new year message in Northern Ireland welcomed any legal case against the ban 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.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: “It is great to see Hogmanay in Scotland being marked by a celebration of love with these longed-for weddings.

“Sadly, as we enter 2015, same-sex couples in Northern Ireland continue to face a ban on marriage as a result of discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

“We look forward to seeing that discrimination being challenged in the Northern Ireland courts during 2015.”

Mr Corrigan continued: “We have long predicted that, should Northern Ireland’s politicians fail in their duty to end such discrimination, then gay people will resort to the legal system to have their human rights as equal citizens vindicated.

“We expect that to happen in 2015.

“States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“That obligation is clear in international law.

“This means that marriage should be available to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland, just as it is now in Scotland, England and Wales.”

He concluded: “There is still a chance for Northern Ireland’s politicians to do the right thing in 2015.

“However, if they continue to abdicate their responsibilities, judges instead will be asked to uphold the right of all our citizens not to face discrimination.”

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.