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Lesbians Make History With Northern Ireland's First Same-Sex Marriage

Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards

Marriage equality became law in Northern Ireland as of January 13, and Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples, who’ve been engaged for five years, became the first same-sex couple to legally marry there on Tuesday. 

Peoples, 26, and Edwards, 27, intended to celebrate their love with a civil union ceremony if equal marriage had not passed. Now they are part of LGBTQ history there.

“We didn’t expect to be the first couple; it’s coincidental," Edwards said, according to The Guardian. "Today is our six-year anniversary, so we wanted to go ahead with a civil partnership but when the bill was passed it was perfect timing and it was a complete coincidence, a happy coincidence. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples

While marriage equality has been the law of the land in England, Wales, and Scotland since 2014, Northern Ireland had yet to follow suit. But last July, but the United Kingdom’s Parliament stepped in following a collapse of Northern Ireland’s government and OK’d an amendment to legalize marriage equality and abortion there. The law went into effect in January, which allowed same-sex couples to start registering to marry in time to begin marriages in February.

The women met in 2014 when Edwards, who is from Brighton, England, was visiting a cousin in Belfast, where she met Peoples at Kremlin nightclub.

They have been living in Belfast and married in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

Edwards and Peoples credit the Love Equality campaign with really pushing marriage forward. They were also active in the movement, marching at Belfast Pride and various marriage equality events.

“It means the absolute world," Edwards said of the right to marry, thanking the activists who pushed to make it happen. 

“If it wasn’t for them guys we wouldn’t be sat here right now. We just want to say thank you to everyone — everyone who has marched and signed petitions, everyone who has helped us get to this stage, we just want to say thank you." 

“For Northern Ireland, we need to be the face of the people to show everyone it’s OK," Peoples said. "We fought so long and hard for this opportunity to be seen as equal, and now we are here and it’s just amazing.”

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