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  1. ITV Report

Judge rules NI ban on same-sex marriage is lawful

Credit: Presseye

A High Court judge in Belfast has dismissed two landmark legal challenges against the ban on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Mr Justice O'Hara rejected both cases, insisting the ban did not violate the rights of same-sex couple in the region.

Delivering his ruling he said it was for the Stormont Assembly and not a judge to decide social policy in Northern Ireland.

Two cases were heard together due to the similarities of the legal arguments.

The first case - known as Petition X due an anonymity order - involved two men who married in London in 2014 and were attempting to get their union recognised in Northern Ireland.

Their marriage was changed to a civil partnership in law when they moved to Northern Ireland.

In the second case, two couples in civil partnerships - Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane - argued the prohibition breaches their human rights.

Both couples were, respectively, the first and second in the UK to enter into a civil partnership after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to make that option available in December 2005.

They took a case against Stormont's Department of Finance and Personnel, which regulates the region's marriage laws, on the grounds that the ban contravenes entitlements to marriage and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Declan Meehan, from campaign group Love Equality said, "we are hugely disappointed by today's rulings. We would like to thank the couples who brought forward these cases for their bravery and leadership.

"We hope that those engaged in these cases will appeal these decisions and offer our support and thanks."