A Bill aimed at legalising same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is set to go before the House of Commons next week.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill will be tabled by Labour MP Conor McGinn on Wednesday.
It will be introduced under the Ten Minute Rule, which allows for an MP to make the case for a new Private Members’ Bill for up to 10 minutes, after which an opposing speech may be made.
MPs then vote on whether the bill should advance to its first reading stage.
This would be the first step towards same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland being legislated for directly from Westminster, although the Bill would face a lengthy passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Mr McGinn - who was brought up in Northern Ireland - announced his plans to introduce the Private Member’s Bill last month, after Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley said the Government would allow a free vote due to it being a matter of conscience.
Speaking to PoliticsHome, Mr McGinn said the focus should be on restoring the Stormont Executive, but that he was prepared to bring forward legislation in the absence of this happening.
“The song says “you can’t hurry love” but in this case love - and equality - has waited too long already. It’s beyond time to give same-sex couples in Northern Ireland the same rights enjoyed by people in Britain and the Republic of Ireland,” he said.
Previous attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage through the Northern Ireland Assembly have been blocked by a petition of concern being tabled by the DUP.
The party lost the seats required to force a petition of concern at the last Assembly election in 2017, but there is speculation MLAs from other parties could support a similar future petition.