Judge to rule on Northern Ireland marriage ban ‘after Christmas’

Belfast’s High Court will rule on Northern Ireland’s ongoing same-sex marriage ban after Christmas.

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland – but Northern Ireland’s DUP has used peace powers to veto the issue despite a parliamentary majority in favour.

A marriage bill was passed in the Northern Irish Assembly last month by a vote of 53-52, only for the Democratic Unionist Party to override the assembly using a ‘petition of concern’.

This month, Belfast’s High Court heard two successive cases revolving around same-sex marriage – both arguing that the ongoing ban is a violation of human rights laws.

One of the cases revolves around couples who are unable to get marred in Northern Ireland – which their lawyers claim breaches their entitlement to family life and marriage under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Northern Irish government denies breaching human rights laws – insisting that because it allows civil partnerships, they can still gain equal protection under the law.

Judgement was reserved after a two-day hearing at the High Court in Belfast – and Mr Justice O’Hara indicated a ruling may take time, given the complexities of the cases.

He said: “There are a lot of issues raised in this case and the other. I will give my judgement after Christmas.”

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said: “We look forward to new year weddings. We’re hopeful the judgment will allow many committed, loving couples in Northern Ireland the simple right to get married.
Judge to rule on Northern Ireland marriage ban ‘after Christmas’
“It is shameful that these couples were forced to appeal to the courts to get equal treatment and that a minority of politicians have continued to block this progress, in defiance of public opinion.”