LGBT+ rights campaigners march through Belfast against the ban on same-sex marriage. (Getty)
Campaigners for marriage equality in Northern Ireland have confirmed that same-sex marriage will be legal there from January 13 2020, with the first weddings taking place on Valentine’s Day.
Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where same-sex marriage is not legally recognised. On July 9, MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the law if the devolved Northern Ireland Executive has not been re-established by 21 October 2019.
But it seems the law is being changed ahead of schedule as British government ministers announced on Monday, September 9, that the new legislation is due to come into effect on January 13.
Couples will have to wait 28 days after they submit their notice of intention to marry before they can have a ceremony, making February 14 the first day that same-sex couples can get married in Northern Ireland.
We now look forward to the sound of Valentine’s Day wedding bells.
Speaking in the House of Lords last night, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, said: “We are now working closely with government ministers and officials to ensure that the legislative obligations are met, in time and in full, so that couples here can start to enjoy the same rights as elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.
“We now look forward to the sound of Valentine’s Day wedding bells.”
Lord Ian Duncan, Northern Ireland Office parliamentary under secretary of state, added: “Get ready for Valentine’s Day, because that is when they can do it. I can think of no better time than Valentine’s Day.”
Lord Duncan spoke to PinkNews last week about the work being done to change the legal code.
“What we have to ensure is that wherever the law mentions ‘husband and wife’ and ‘man and woman’ it has to be corrected to reflect the change,” he said.
“We’re working to identify all areas where legacy language exists. The legislation impacted by this covers pensions, benefits and so on.
“We want to make sure that on that date in January, we don’t miss something. So we’re working assiduously to ensure that absolute legal certainty is granted, exactly as you would be if you were marrying as a heterosexual couple.”