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Marriage Equality Finally Legal in Northern Ireland

N. Ireland

The U.K. Parliament stepped in last year and took steps to legalize same-sex unions and abortion.

Marriage equality is the law of the land in Northern Ireland beginning today.

It's been a complicated road for Northern Ireland to join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalizing both same-sex marriage and abortion. But after the U.K.'s Parliament stepped in following a collapse of the Northern Ireland government, the day when all could take part in legally recognized nuptials has been a certainty.

An amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 makes clear the U.K. Parliament will determine the legality of abortions and marriages. The only way the act from Westminster could have been stopped was if a new Northern Ireland government formed by October 21 last year, which did not occur.

As of Monday morning, same-sex couples can register with the government and have their unions legally recognized, according to the BBC. That means the first legal ceremonies can take place as soon as February 10. Northern Ireland also established recognition for civil partnerships.

"It's a good day for Northern Ireland, an important day for citizens' rights across these islands, and an exciting day for same-sex couples who can now register to marry," said Labour MP Conor McGinn.

Amnesty International applauded the development.

"For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens," said Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International. "So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal. Today, and the weddings which will follow next month, mark the culmination of years of campaigning and we thank our colleagues in the Love Equality coalition and every supporter who helped make this day a reality."

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