Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
A same-sex couple from Northern Ireland are taking the Northern Ireland authorities to the High Court, in an attempt to get them to recognise their marriage. The couple – who got married in England and wish to remain anonymous – are asking Belfast’s High Court to declare that their marriage is lawful and should be recognised as such in Northern Ireland. The case, which began on 8 January, is being supported by local LGBTI organisation, the Rainbow Project.
Following changes to the law in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK with a ban on same-sex marriage still in place. Same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions are treated as civil partnerships in Northern Ireland.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said: ‘Amnesty International welcomes this court challenge and predicts that the courts will now move to outlaw discrimination where Northern Ireland’s politicians have failed to do so.’
‘Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland continue to face a ban on marriage as a result of discrimination based on their sexual orientation. We welcome that discrimination being challenged in the courts. We have long predicted that, should Northern Ireland’s politicians fail in their duty to end such discrimination, then gay people will go to court to have their human rights as equal citizens vindicated.’
‘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.’
In April 2014, the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected a motion calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage – the third time in 18 months that Stormont rejected such proposals. This is despite a 2012 survey finding clear public support in Northern Ireland for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, where 57 per cent of those surveyed indicated they were in favour of the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
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