Campaigners for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland were dealt a blow yesterday when a judge dismissed two cases that could've brought same-sex marriage to the country. Now an activist is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to push through equal marriage in the country.
Yesterday afternoon, Judge Mr Justice O’Hara rejected two separate challenges
to the country's ban on same-sex marriage. In his ruling on one of the cases, O'Hara said his decision was "not based on social policy but on the law."
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without marriage equality. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has blocked equal marriage legislation multiple times in the Northern Ireland assembly – most recently in November 2015, when a majority of the Assembly actually voted to legalise same-sex marriage, only for the DUP to effectively veto the measure under the terms of Stormont’s power-sharing agreement.
Rainbow Project director John O'Doherty has now appealed to Theresa May to intervene due to the Assembly's inaction on this issue. "It is the responsibility of Theresa May's government to make the necessary amendments to the marriage legislation to make it applicable in Northern Ireland," said O'Doherty in the aftermath of yesterday's ruling
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"The eyes of LGBT people around the world will now be on Theresa May. She says that she has changed her mind on LGBT equality over her years in Parliament.
"Now is her chance to prove it."
He also said that two of the couples will launch an appeal against the ruling.
Caral Ni Chuilin, a Sinn Fein MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) criticised the ruling, and said that the only reason couples were going through the courts is because the DUP continue to block marriage equality "in defiance of wider public opinion and a majority in the Assembly".
"The ongoing denial of rights by the DUP, with the support of the British government, which are enjoyed by citizens right across these islands is unacceptable. This is an issue which is at the heart of the current political crisis," she added.
"The fight for marriage equality will go on."
Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP said that that ruling served as a reminder that Northern Ireland is "the only small corner of these islands where we maintain a hierarchy of love".
He said: "We are increasingly isolated here and across Europe as a place where the commitment and compassion of a same-sex couple is not recognised in our law.
"This ruling reinforces the fact that a failure of politics is to blame for the inequity and inequality that loving couples here face."
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