Could one court ruling force Northern Ireland to allow gay marriage ?

Gay couple married in England are hoping to have their marriage recognized in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland's gay marriage ban could be overruled this week.

A gay couple married in England could be the key in same-sex marriages being recognized in Northern Ireland.

In a court ruling this week, to be heard at Belfast high court, a decision could lead to the UK as a whole allowing gay couples to get legally married.

The couple, who have asked to remain anonymous, will call on Northern Ireland to make a declaration their marriage remains lawfully constituted where they are living now and should be recognized on Thursday (15 January).

John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, is backing the couple.

‘We are very happy to support this important legal challenge. While same-sex marriage legislation in Westminster had many positive aspects, we believe that its provision forbidding the recognition of lawful same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland is irrational, contrary to principles of British constitutional law and incompatible with the European convention on human rights,’ he said.

‘We are resolute in our assertion that no one can be married in one part of the United Kingdom and then not married in another.

‘Once a couple is lawfully married in the UK, we contend that their relationship cannot be reclassified as a civil partnership without their consent, which is exactly what the law currently does.

‘The legislation says to lawfully married people that they are no longer married. This is unconscionable and cannot be permitted to continue.

‘Marriage is a fundamental human right, which is now recognised in the UK as including same-sex couples. We will work to ensure that this right is realised for everyone in the United Kingdom and we are confident that marriage equality will be achieved in Northern Ireland.’

Without the ruling, Northern Ireland is expected to be the only main part of the British and Irish islands that ban same-sex marriage by the end of the year.

Ireland itself will be voting in a referendum in May. In the last Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, it found 71% supported marriage equality in Ireland.

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