Ireland has marriage equality. In the UK, so does Britain and Scotland. Yet, Northern Ireland does not have marriage equality, which was a surprise.
I’ve wanted to learn more about why. Today, I had the chance to ask this question when we spoke with The Amnesty about their Love Equality campaign. Love Equality campaign is organized by six organizations (including The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend, which we visited earlier in our visit). Our talk encompassed everything from the legal challenges, representative hurdles and community awareness.
There are a few court cases waiting on a judicial decision challenging these laws: 1). The right to marry in Northern Ireland and 2) recognizing citizens who marriage in other countries. The current goal of some of the activist is to keep this momentum going since it started with rallies that had a surprising turn out of over 20,000 people taking to the streets.
Last year, a marriage equality bill initially passed by a close majority politicians. However, the Petition of Concern stopped it in the end. It is a veto power bestowed upon the minority party in order to ensure all bills passed are truly in everyone’s best interest. This was a necessity for its time but is now being abused. They claim their religiously lead restraints are representative of the people they represent. That’s funny to me because 70% of Belfast’s people support marriage equality.
This has been and is being achieved through community awareness events. One of the most impactful statements was when people set up same-sex weddings, inviting everyone to join once the law is changed. A statement that was strong enough to even draw out some politicians to come and support. The people of Northern are behind this but they need more politicians to join their voices.
It breaks my heart to think that there is someone in Ireland saying his or her significant other is in Northern Ireland. But just around the corner, their partner can’t say the same back. If they were to die, it will go down in history on every paper that they did not leave a piece of their heart with the love of their life when they passed away.
The bill is up to be voted on again next year. The current outlook is extremely positive. The momentum has not stopped or slowed down and I know people are working hard to keep the wheels moving. Until this bill passes, I won’t stop asking why there isn’t marriage equality in Northern Ireland.
Written by Unnati Upadhyay