March to call for NI equal marriage legislation

Equality campaigners are calling for support at a march in Belfast. Credit: Pacemaker

Campaigners are to hold a march in Belfast calling for equal marriage legislation for Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains barred.

The march is planned for Saturday 1 July, two days after the deadline of the Stormont talks on restoring devolved government.

It will start at Writers’ Square at 2.30pm that afternoon and culminate in a rally in front of Belfast City Hall.

The demonstration is being organised by the Love Equality coalition, led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and Here NI.

Thousands took part in a similar march in Belfast in June 2015.

Support for marriage equality crosses traditional political and religious differences in Northern Ireland, so we call on people of all backgrounds to join us on this great march for equality.

John O’Doherty, Rainbow Project

John O’Doherty, from the Rainbow Project, said: “It is time for government to respect the will of the people of Northern Ireland, which is overwhelmingly in support of civil marriage equality.

“This march will be a demonstration of that support, a call for the people to be heard in the corridors of Stormont and of Westminster.”

According to an Ipsos Mori poll in June 2016, 70% of the Northern Ireland public supports marriage equality legislation.

Lady Portia and Lee Cullen from Cara Friend join with campaigners to call for support for marriage equality. Credit: Pacemaker

Progress on equal marriage at Stormont has been blocked by the DUP’s use of the petition of concern despite majority support by MLAs.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: “There is now a very clear majority within the Northern Ireland Assembly in favour of marriage equality.

“But if Stormont is incapable of delivering equality for the people of Northern Ireland then, through direct rule, it is the responsibility of the Westminster government.”

He added: “No backroom politics can be allowed to stand in the way of equality.”

Marriage equality in Northern Ireland is a litmus test for whether or not any future government is committed to treating all citizens of this country equally.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC-ICTU) has added its voice to calls for support for the march and its message on equal marriage legislation.

Clare Moore from the organisation, which is the representative body for 34 trade unions with over 215,000 members across Northern Ireland, said: “The trade union movement calls on all trade union members to join this march for equality.

“The public support equal marriage and their voices must be heard and heeded by those who would seek to govern.

“Any new government at Westminster or at Stormont must be a government for all the people of Northern Ireland. That will be our message on 1 July.”

Thousands are expected to take part in the march. Credit: Pacemaker