Belfast Telegraph

Equal marriage rights for Northern Ireland march to be held in Belfast

By Christine Carrigan

A protest march is to be held in Belfast to demand legislation for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

It is currently the only region within the UK where same sex marriage is banned.

It comes as a new round of talks got underway at Stormont aimed at forming a new Executive. The deadline for an agreement to be reached is June 29.

The DUP has used a controversial Stormont voting mechanism – the petition of concern – to prevent a law change, despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote.

The party rejects any suggestion it is homophobic, insisting it is instead protecting the “traditional” definition of marriage.

Following March’s snap Assembly election, the DUP no longer has the electoral strength to deploy a petition of concern in its own right, though it could still potentially combine with other socially conservative MLAs to do so.

That will only be tested once, and if, a devolved Assembly can be re-established out of the current political crisis in Belfast.

The march is being organised by Love Equality coalition -the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland - and was announced at Belfast City Hall on Monday.

It is led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI.

They are hoping to ramp up the pressure on the region’s largest political party to change its stance at a time when its policies on social issues are under renewed scrutiny due to the likely parliamentary deal with the minority Tory government.

John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, an organisation that works to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of members from the LGBT community said: "The march will send the clearest possible message that members of the LGBT community will remain second class citizens no more."

Clare Moore of the Irish Congress of trade unions said: "The Trade Union movement calls on all trade union members to join this march for equality. The public support equal marriage and their voices must be heard and heeded by those who would seek to govern.

"Any new government at Westminster or at Stormont must be a government for all the people of Northern Ireland."

The march will be held in Belfast on Saturday July 1 and will start at Writers’ Square in Belfast at 2,30pm, culminating in a rally in front of Belfast City Hall.

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