BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland’s first same-sex wedding is scheduled to take place on Tuesday after the government lifted a ban on gay marriage in the province, marking legalization of the practice throughout the United Kingdom.
The Love Equality campaign group said in a statement that Belfast couple Robyn Peoples, 26, a healthcare worker from the city, and Sharni Edwards, 27, a waitress originally from Brighton, would be the province’s first gay couple to wed.
The women are set to exchange vows in Carrickfergus, County Antrim on Tuesday, their sixth anniversary as a couple.
“We didn’t set out to make history. We just fell in love,” Edwards said in the Love Equality statement.
“We feel humbled that our wedding is a landmark moment for equal rights in Northern Ireland.”
The couple had been planning a civil partnership – legal across the UK since 2005 – but decided to get married instead after the landmark change came into law on Monday.
Northern Ireland’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was eliminated by the central government after a vote by British lawmakers when the province did not have a sitting government.
The socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party had previously been able to block same-sex civil marriage rights. The provincial assembly began sitting again last month.
The British parliament also voted to loosen restrictions on abortion in the region at the same time.
Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister Julian Smith, members of parliament and campaigners will celebrate the legalization of gay marriage at an event in London.
Sara Canning, the partner of murdered author Lyra McKee, who was shot dead by a New IRA gunman in Londonderry last year, will also attend the London event.
“Our message to the world on our wedding day is: We are equal,” Peoples said “Our love is personal, but the law which said we couldn’t marry was political. We are delighted that, with our wedding, we can now say that those days are over.”
Editing by Cynthia Osterman