BELFAST (Reuters) – Thousands of people marched through Belfast on Saturday to demand the recognition of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, the only region of the United Kingdom where it does not have legal status.
Attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor.
Sara Canning, the partner of journalist and LGBT rights campaigner Lyra McKee who was murdered in April, led the march alongside a number of gay and lesbian couples. Canning said that she and McKee had been planning to marry.
“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage” as the rest of the United Kingdom, said Canning, who was wearing a “Love Equality” t-shirt. Protesters waved rainbow flags and placards saying “Love is a human right.”
Protesters called on May’s government to bypass the DUP and introduce legislation in the British parliament in Westminster. The Northern Ireland power-sharing government has been frozen for two years due to disagreement between the DUP and the largest Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein.
“If Stormont is incapable of delivering equality for people here, then it is the responsibility of the Westminster to end discrimination against the LGBT community,” Amnesty International spokesman Patrick Corrigan said.
Reporting by Amanda Ferguson; Editing by Conor Humphries and Ros Russell