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Northern Irish same-sex couples can convert civil partnerships to marriages from today

Hundreds of couples across the country will be eligible to make the change.

2020-12-07

Same-sex couples living in Northern Ireland will be able to convert their civil partnerships to marriages from today (7 December), in a move heralded as the "last stage in achieving full marriage equality" in the region. 

The change to the law was passed in October, more than six months after the first same-sex marriages took place in February.

It means around 1300 couples who had previously entered a civil partnership now have a three-year window to convert to a marriage, with fees waived for the first year as a gesture of goodwill. 

17 conversions are expected to take place on Monday as the legislation comes into effect, with 32 conversions planned over the course of the week, ITV News reports.

Among the couples tying the knot on Monday are long-time marriage equality campaigners Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk, who were honoured with an Attitude Pride Award in 2018 for their work to see marriage equality legalised in Northern Ireland.

Sharing a picture of the couple in rainbow Pride facemasks outside Belfast City Hall today, McGurk wrote: "Today after a long wait I officially get to be your wife @caramccann. I can’t believe it, love you."

In her own tweet, McCann added: "Can’t believe this day is here! At city hall in Belfast waiting to get our marriage certificate!!!"

Reacting to the law change back in October, McGurk had said: "It is such a relief to get the last element of marriage equality legislation over the line.

"This means that people in civil partnerships, like my partner Amanda and I, can finally become the married couple we have always wanted to be.

"This change means so much to so many people here, as we can finally see that the law respects our relationships as equal."