Sara Canning, the partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee, will address marriage equality at a rally at Belfast City Hall on 18 May.
LGBTI campaigners in Northern Ireland have organized a major demo in Belfast to call for LGBTI equality.
Northern Ireland lags behind England, Scotland and Wales and the Republic of Ireland in terms of LGBTI and reproductive rights.
Same-sex couples can enter civil partnerships in Northern Ireland, but same-sex marriages aren’t legal. Moreover, abortion is illegal except for saving the mother’s life.
The Love Equality campaign, organizers of the march, are demanding that the Northern Irish Parliament must deliver marriage equality legislation to bring the region into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland.
Failing that, they will call on the UK Government to intervene to end discrimination against same-sex couples in Northern Ireland.
Canning will be among the speakers addressing the importance of marriage equality.
‘Lyra and I were supposed to be on a big trip to New York this week. We were going to get engaged,’ she said.
‘We talked about getting married in Donegal, but really we wanted our love and our marriage to be recognised in Northern Ireland, just the same as the rest of our family members and friends. But to date, politicians have stopped that happening here, despite the fact that most people support equal marriage.’
If Northern Ireland won’t legalize same-sex marriage, Westminster should do it
She also said: ‘If the politicians won’t legislate for equal marriage at Stormont, then the Prime Minister should do it at Westminster. That’s what I told Theresa May at Lyra’s funeral.’
‘I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country. Surely that’s not too much to ask?’
She finally added: ‘Myself and lots of Lyra’s friends and family are going to be marching for marriage equality. We hope people will come and join us.’
The murder of Lyra McKee
A member of the New IRA shot McKee dead in Londonderry on 18 April. The lesbian journalist was wounded on Good Friday Eve during a riot where New IRA had targeted police and also thrown petrol bombs at them.
Police arrested a 57-year-old woman under the terrorism act over the murder.
Despite public outcry, Northern Ireland leader Arlene Foster said her party’s opposition to same-sex marriage will continue.
Foster said she sympathized with Canning and McKee’s family over the tragedy. But she clarified: ‘You shouldn’t conflate sympathy and empathy with the political issue… of marriage’.