Thousands take part in Belfast marriage equality rally

Lyra McKee's partner Sara Canning led the parade. Credit: UTV

Thousands of people have taken part in a marriage equality march in Belfast.

Saturday afternoon’s parade through city centre was led by Sara Canning, the partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Unlike the rest of the UK, same-sex marriage is not allowed in Northern Ireland.

Ms Canning told the crowds at City Hall that a law change would be a “win” for everyone here and asked why the region is treated differently.

She said: "We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, we live deeply and we love dearly - why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage?"

Ms Canning has previously called on Prime Minister Theresa May to legalise same-sex marriage in the absence of devolved government.

"Same-sex couples come from every single political, religious, cultural, andracial background," she went on.

"A vote passing on equal marriage would not be a 'win' for any one side, it would be a win for all sides."

The rally - attended by an estimated seven or eight thousand people - was organised by the Love Equality campaign.

John O'Doherty from the Rainbow Project said: "To Theresa May, Karen Bradley and the UK Government, our message is simple - human rights should not be based on postcodes.

"This is now happening on your watch. It is up to you to deliver on thepromise of equality.

"Your kind words are no longer welcome - we judge you on your actions."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, added: "In our thousands, we send a message today from Belfast to London thatsecond-class citizenship for the LGBT community has to end now.

"We must be heard and our calls for equality must be answered."