Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: Northern Ireland celebrates new same-sex marriage laws

There were celebrations as laws allowing same-sex marriage to take place in Northern Ireland for the first time were enacted.

The laws - brought in from Westminster in the absence of a local power-sharing executive - will allow for same-sex marriages to take place in February next year.

Previous attempts to change the law had been blocked by the DUP in the Assembly using the petition of concern mechanism.

Celebrations across Northern Ireland went into the small hours of Tuesday morning and were captured on social media.

Martha Brown (left, grey t-shirt) with her partner Louise McCullough (right, black t-shirt) and equal marriage supporters at Maverick Bar, Belfast, celebrate the change to abortion and same sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)
Martha Brown (left, grey t-shirt) with her partner Louise McCullough (right, black t-shirt) and equal marriage supporters at Maverick Bar, Belfast, celebrate the change to abortion and same sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)
Martha Brown (left, grey t-shirt) with her partner Louise McCullough (right, black t-shirt) and equal marriage supporters at Maverick Bar, Belfast, celebrate the change to abortion and same sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland. The law passed by Westminster MPs will decriminalise abortion and pave the way for the introduction of same sex marriage in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Sunflower Pub in Belfast posted pictures of just some of the celebrations.

Posted by Sunflower Public House & Live Music on Monday, October 21, 2019

Posted by Sunflower Public House & Live Music on Monday, October 21, 2019
Posted by Sunflower Public House & Live Music on Monday, October 21, 2019

Did you get engaged last night? Email digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph to tell us your story.

Liam Larmour even popped the question to his long term partner Reuben Skillen on radio station Juice 1038.

Liam recorded a 30 second voice note before sending it to the station's WhatsApp and asked that it be played shortly before 6pm.

Reuben was under the impression that his other half was at home waiting on a grocery delivery, when in fact he was hidden in the staff room of Marks & Spencer on Donegall Pass in Belfast waiting on Reuben finishing his shift.

Juice1038 was playing in the background and at 5.50pm, presenter Shane Pearce played the audio live on air, with Liam asking Reuben to marry him.

And he said yes.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Liam, who is 40 and from Belfast, said Reuben had wanted him to propose to him but to do it in a way that would surprise him.

"We don't have a date at the moment. We had been looking at the idea if we could get married on the first day of registrations at City Hall. We could maybe be one of the first to it. If we could get it done on Valentine's Day 2020 it would mark the occasion that Reuben proposed to me for our civil partnership.

"We have been in a civil partnership since 2017, he proposed to me on Valentine's Day in 2012, so it would be a nice kind of book end to the relationship.

"It is a big moment, we have been talking about it for a long time, it has always been that thought this is Northern Ireland, that will never happen.

"We have both have friends in England and the Republic who have been married and we have always been envious that we have always had to stick with a civil partnership."

Marriage_proposal.jpg
Liam Larmour proposed to his partner Reuben while live on the radio.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion campaigners have marked abortion laws reform in Northern Ireland by changing their social media profile pictures to black dots as a sign of protest.

Scores of social media users changed their profiles to the "Darkest Day" image after the legislation came into force.

One social media user, James McCullough, said posted on social media: "Join me in marking this sad day by changing your profile picture. The empty profiles will be a sombre reminder of the lives lost to abortion in the years to come."

Another social media user posted: "Due to abortion becoming available after midnight in Northern Ireland I'm going to join a number of people who have blacked out their profile pic. God help the unborn of Northern Ireland and throughout the Earth."

Mark McClurg wrote: "I feel part of the soul of Northern Ireland died last nght."

Anti-abortion organisation Right To Life UK said: "Today is an incredibly dark day for Northern Ireland, particularly for the unborn child and everyone who supports the right to life.  

"We are joining many other organisations in encouraging people to change their profile picture on social media to a black #DarkestDay image.

"As people's profile pictures disappear it will be a powerful visual reminder of the lives that will be lost as a result of this law change."

DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly, posting a picture of a rose with a black background, said the changes to abortion laws were "shameful".

A new legal framework for access to abortion services here is planned to be in place by March 31.

In the Assembly on Monday, the DUP attempted to put a bill forward to stop the liberalisation of abortion legislation.

However, the move was blocked by Stormont Speaker Robin Newton who refused to suspend Assembly Rules to allow the last ditch attempt to stop abortion.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said it wasn't the end of her party's efforts to oppose abortion here.

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