An independent survey has found almost 70 per cent of people in favour of legalising equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that 68 per cent of adults in the province believe that gay couples should be allowed to marry, a figure even higher than the 62 per cent who voted Yes in the recent marriage equality referendum in the Republic of Ireland. Following the Yes vote in May’s Irish referendum, Northern Ireland will now be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the right to civil marriage is denied to gay couples.

Amnesty International said the figures showed that Northern Ireland’s politicians were badly out of step with ordinary people on the issue and called on the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward marriage equality legislation without further delay.

The survey found that 82 per cent of the 16 to 34 age group support gay marriage, with 75 per cent support among 35 to 54-year-olds. Only among people in the 55+ age bracket did they find less than 50 per cent in favour.

Among voters for the DUP, whose politicians have repeatedly blocked equal marriage in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the poll shows that almost half – 45 per cent – support a change in the law to allow same sex couples to wed.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: ‘The people have spoken and it’s clear they don’t want Northern Ireland to be left behind on marriage equality. Northern Ireland’s politicians are badly out of step with the people on marriage equality.

‘Continuing resistance to bringing Northern Ireland in step with all our neighbours is unacceptable. It’s high time Northern Ireland said a big “we do too” to equality. The Stormont Executive should bring forward marriage equality legislation without further delay.’

Last month, an estimated 20,000 people marched through Belfast demanding marriage equality, in a demonstration organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project, the region’s largest LGBTI group.

In January, So So Gay reported that a same sex couple were suing the Northern Ireland government in the courts for the right to marry.