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Lesbian teacher hails thousands at Belfast rally for same-sex marriage

By Michelle Smyth

Published 15/06/2015

Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality
Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Thousands of people attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. (Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press)
Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Saturday 13th June 2015 Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Ellie McEaveney and Meabh Neeson giving their support to Gay marriage as thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
The Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Saturday 13th June 2015 Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured are long term civil partners Cathrine Couvert and Sally Bridge.Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured is Canon Charles Kenny. Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured giving her support to Gay marriage is Aibhrean Black as thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured are Ellie McEaveney and Meabh Neeson giving their support to Gay marriage as thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured are Ellie McEaveney and Meabh Neeson giving their support to Gay marriage as thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured is John Doherty of the Rainbow project. Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 13/6/15 Pictured are long term civil partners Cathrine Couvert and Sally Bridge.Thousands of people have attended a march in Belfast, calling for the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The march began at Writer's Square and moved towards Belfast City Hall, where a rally was held.The organisers said Northern Ireland is "out on a limb" as the only part of the UK and Ireland not to change its laws. The Northern Ireland Assembly has debated the issue four times, and each time MLAs rejected same-sex marriage. Picture Mark marlow/pacemaker press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Saturday 13th June 2015 - Amnesty International March for Equality Pictured is the Amnesty International March for Equality as it makes its way through Belfast City Centre. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

A lesbian teacher praised everyone involved in the same-sex marriage rally in Belfast at the weekend.

Hilary Donnan from Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast, attended the rally with her Gay, Straight, Whatever support group made up of pupils and teachers from the school.

She described the vibe in the city on Saturday as "outstanding" and said it was great to see so many people out to show their support.

"The atmosphere was one of love, respect and joy. Our 20-strong group meet regularly to chat, organise events and plan ways to combat homophobic bullying and language. We feel strongly that love is love and that same-sex couples should have the same rights to civil marriage as heterosexual couples," she said.

Thousands of supporters of same-sex marriage poured into the city.

A police spokeswoman said the application to the Parades Commission was for an expected attendance of 5,000, but the gathering seemed to be far in excess of this, with organisers claiming up to 20,000 people took part.

A Parades Commission spokeswoman said: "There was no determination issued as it wasn't deemed a sensitive parade. Therefore there wasn't any restriction on numbers or breach made."

One group not getting into the spirit of the parade were local traders, who reported that footfall was down during the rally.

While bars and restaurants did good business on a sunny afternoon, other retailers were not so happy as the commercial centre was brought almost to a halt.

President of Belfast Chamber of Commerce Paul McMahon called for all major rallies to take place outside main trading hours.

Hilary Donnan from Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast
Hilary Donnan from Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast

"We've been consistent in our message to event organisers planning parades of any nature in the city - that the core trading hours of between 12pm and 6pm on a Saturday are protected and free from any disruption," he said.

"Absolutely bonkers" and "pathetic" was how one Church of Ireland clergyman described those in opposition to gay marriage.

Canon Charles Kenny from the Church of Ireland's gay rights group said: "We should be challenging them, asking them how they justify their immense anger against gays."

Actress Bronagh Waugh said she was at the rally - organised by Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project - to stand up for people close to her who are gay.

Amnesty International's NI programme director Patrick Corrigan said it was "unacceptable" for the state to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity.

Belfast Telegraph

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