Legal Challenge to Northern Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Ban
A couple who were married in England are making a legal challenge at Belfast's High Court today, because their same-sex marriage is not recogised in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland remains the only country in the United Kingdom with a gay marriage ban. The highest legal recognition a gay couple can have there is as civil partners.
The couple behind the challenge believe the law not only downgrades their marriage, it devalues it.
Of course, Northern Ireland isn't unique in this position. Many countries where same-sex marriage remains prohibited will not recognise marriages made abroad. One notable exception to this is Malta. Malta recognises overseas marriages even though gay marriage isn’t legal there yet.
This is the latest high-profile legal challenge to the ban. Since the Republic of Ireland legalised equal marriage via public vote back in May, Northern Ireland has been under increasing pressure from LGBT campaigners. Individuals, too, have initiated legal action against what they believe to be unacceptable discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. Next month, another couple (one of the first to receive a civil partnership in Northern Ireland) will be in court for a judicial review after they too challenged the country’s equal marriage ban.
Despite increasing support among the general public, there has been little progress in Parliament. The DUP has consistently and successfully blocked any attempt to change the law.
Here’s hoping that if the ban can’t be circumvented politically, that it can be successfully challenged in the law courts.