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More than 1,000 same-sex couples in partnerships could convert to full marriage

Campaigners in Northern Ireland asked shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh to help secure the final law change during a meeting in Belfast.

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Marriage equality campaigners (Liam McBurney/PA)

Marriage equality campaigners (Liam McBurney/PA)

Marriage equality campaigners (Liam McBurney/PA)

More than 1,000 same-sex couples in civil partnerships in Northern Ireland could convert to full marriage if changes to the law are agreed, Amnesty International has said.

Campaigners in Northern Ireland asked shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh to help secure the shift during a meeting in Belfast on Tuesday.

Same-sex civil marriage became legal in Northern Ireland on January 13, but couples who wish to have a religious ceremony as part of their wedding, or who wish to convert their civil partnership to a marriage, are still not able to do so.

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Louise Haigh visiting the Lyra McKee mural in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Louise Haigh visiting the Lyra McKee mural in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

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Louise Haigh visiting the Lyra McKee mural in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Campaigners want Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to lay new regulations in Parliament and introduce the changes as a matter of urgency.

Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “We are keen to get the last element of marriage equality legislation over the line, which will allow over 1,000 same-sex couples currently in civil partnerships to convert to marital status if they wish.”

A UK Government spokesman recently said conversion entitlement regulations will follow as soon as possible, before the end of this year.

On her first visit to Northern Ireland since becoming shadow secretary of state, Ms Haigh met local LGBT+ and same-sex marriage campaigners, with whom she has been working since her appointment in April.

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Patrick Corrigan (Liam McBurney/PA)

Patrick Corrigan (Liam McBurney/PA)

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Patrick Corrigan (Liam McBurney/PA)

She said: “I am incredibly proud of the role Labour MPs like Conor McGinn played in bringing marriage equality to Northern Ireland, and it is a privilege to meet the inspiring campaigners who made it happen.

“But we know there is still work to be done in bringing forward the regulations that will make possible the conversion of a civil partnership to marriage.

“That is the final piece of the jigsaw that must be delivered.

“I will continue to work with local groups to ensure that this and other pressing issues facing the LGBT community in Northern Ireland are addressed.”

Mr Corrigan said the Labour Party was a huge part of the success in the fight for same-sex marriage at Westminster.

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