Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Britain's N.Ireland keeps ban on gay marriage

Britain's N.Ireland keeps ban on gay marriage Britain's N.Ireland keeps ban on gay marriage
Frederick Owens | 18 August, 2017, 04:33

Mr Justice O'Hara said: "It is not at all hard to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage".

Two cases calling for same-sex marriage to be recognised in Northern Ireland have been dismissed by the Belfast High Court.

Handing down his ruling on their case this afternoon, Judge O'Hara stressed that the law on marriage falls under the remit of the Northern Ireland Assembly, adding that as a member of the judiciary, he must "respect the separation of powers".

The second case was brought by a couple who Wednesday in England but want their marriage legally recognised at home in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is the only jurisdiction in the United Kingdom which bans gay marriage, despite the fact they were the first part of the UK to pass a law allowing civil partnerships in 2004.

Shannon Sickles, Grainne Close, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane were challenging Stormont's refusal to legislate for same-sex marriage.

The two couples were the first and second in to be joined together in a civil partnership after Northern Ireland made that option available in 2005.

Today's court ruling has disappointed many LGBTQ activists and allies, and though the marriage campaign continues with more public support than ever before, Northern Ireland's denial of LGBTQ rights and its endorsement of conservatism will only continue to alienate its progressive youth, who are turned away by political disregard for human rights, and dysfunctional sectarian government.

Justice O'Hara denied both cases on the grounds that marriage equality is social policy, and that his verdict was reached based on current law.

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The two men claimed they were subjected to discrimination by having their relationship "downgraded".

The Republic of Ireland legalised same-sex marriage in a referendum in May 2015 - becoming the only country in the world to do so by popular vote.

The case was brought by three same-sex couples, backed by campaigners who are trying to pressure the region's largest party, the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to reverse its veto on same-sex marriage.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said it was "shameful" the couples had been forced to take their cases to court.

"The current laws in Northern Ireland preventing this are discriminatory, and belong in the past".

"I know plenty of people in that community who don't want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership... it's all become a bit of a storm in a teacup".

"It is not hard to understand how gay men and lesbians, who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion, feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage", he said.

"Now the challenge has been thrown firmly back at the politicians and it is essential we get Stormont up and running again to stabilise Northern Ireland and start delivering for everyone".

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