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Couple challenges Northern Ireland’s gay marriage ban in court

Couple challenges Northern Ireland’s gay marriage ban in court

A second legal challenge will be heard in December.

A couple is challenging Northern Ireland’s gay marriage ban in court after parliament blocked a same-sex marriage bill for the fifth time last week.

The anonymous couple told the High Court in Belfast that their union had been ‘demeaned, devalued and undermined’ on Monday (9 November) morning.

Claimant X and his husband were married in England last year but are only recognized as civil partners in their home country.

Northern Ireland the only part of the UK and Ireland that does not recognize gay marriage – even though it was the first place to legalize civil unions in 2006.

Last week, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted in favor of a gay marriage bill for the first time. But the Democratic Unionist Party blocked the legislation with a ‘petition of concern,’ which was originally designed to protect minority rights.

‘This case is hugely significant,’ said Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland program director of Amnesty International.

‘Following the repeated failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate for marriage equality, litigation has been forced on this couple who simply want their marriage to be recognized as such in the place they live.

‘It is the case of a couple who took off from Heathrow as a married couple and landed in Belfast no longer married. That is how absurd and inconsistent the marriage law for same-sex couples is in the UK.

A second legal challenge to the ban, involving the first two couples to enter civil partnerships in Northern Ireland, will be heard next month.

According to a recent Ipsos MORI poll, 68% of adults in Northern Ireland support gay marriage – more than the 62.8% that voted Yes in the south’s referendum in May.