Thousands March for Same-sex Marriage in Belfast

Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK not to have the right to same-sex marriage.

Thousands of people marched in Belfast Sunday July, 3 calling for the legalization of gay marriage in Northern Ireland.

The march, organized by the Love Equality campaign, began at Writers’ Square before culminating at a rally at Belfast City Hall.

LGBTI groups led the march including the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions,  and NUS-USI packing out the Royal Avenue.

Conor Loughran, LGBT+ Officer at NUS-USI, who attended the march said: ‘Thousands of people from across not only NI but also the UK and Ireland came to stand together to fight for a common cause and have their voices heard loud and clear.’

Irish actor Bronagh Waugh, know for her role in The Fall led the rally: ‘This is not about religion, this is not about politics, this is about human rights.

‘I can feel change coming, and we will see equal marriage come finally to Northern Ireland.’

Sinn Féin’s President Gerry Adams also attended the March as yet another deadline for agreement on the power-sharing Executive in Stormont passed on 29 June.

Same-sex marriage is one of the key stumbling blocks to an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party to restart the Northern Ireland Assembly.

An agreement will need to be in place before the DUP can spend any of the money they secured as part of the confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative party in Westminster.

At the last vote in Stormont, the fifth on the issue of same-sex marriage, the assembly narrowly voted in favor of legalizing. However, the DUP used a Stormont Veto known as a ‘petition of concern’, to block the motion preventing a change in the law.

The DUP have a hard line stance and define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The DUP has blocked same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland multiple times

Their leader Arlene Foster defended against accusations this position is homophobic in an interview with ITV News.

She said ‘We take a particular view in relation to the definition of marriage; that does not mean in any one way that we are homophobic.’

This means it is unlikely they will change their stance in any deal agreed with Sinn Fein. However, some believe if cross-community vetoes are altered to exclude their use on moral and social issues this could open the way for change in Northern Ireland.

An IPSOS MORI poll in June 2016 suggested 70% of the NI public supported same-sex marriage.

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is due to give an update to the House of Commons Monday afternoon on the power-sharing talks.

The talks between Sinn Féin and the DUP broke up on Saturday with no agreement. The Secretary of State has the option of extending the deadline for talks or reintroducing direct rule from Westminster. On Friday he said, the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland ‘cannot continue for much longer’.