Flaws in same-sex marriage legislation in Northern Ireland are “blocking many couples” from celebrating their big day, campaigners have warned.
Same-sex couples are still unable to have religious weddings in the territory and civil partnerships can’t yet be converted to marriages, the Northern Ireland Love Equality campaign has warned.
The campaign group said that the Secretary of State must lay new regulations in parliament so these couples can be allowed to celebrate their love as they see fit.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Northern Ireland on January 13 of this year, with the first wedding taking place on February 11 between Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples.
But same-sex couples who want to have a religious ceremony are still being left out in the cold.
Same-sex couples who want to have a religious wedding ceremony are unable to do so in Northern Ireland.
Campaigners are now demanding a change in legislation to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.
“We have already won an historic change to the law – now we need the Secretary of State to finish the paperwork which is blocking many couples’ big day,” said Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International.
“Julian Smith, when he was Secretary of State, pledged to deliver same-sex religious marriage by April and civil partnership conversion in the following months.
The present situation must not be allowed to continue as it is deeply painful to same sex couples who are people of faith.
“We are now approaching the end of May and have seen no action from his successor Brandon Lewis,” he said.
“The LGBT community and their supporters have had to battle longer and harder to secure same-sex marriage than anywhere else on the UK or Ireland and we are not going to leave the job half done.
“No-one will be left behind in our fight for equality and the Secretary of State needs to end his ‘go slow’ in delivering the now overdue changes.”
Current restrictions are ‘deeply painful’ for same-sex couples of faith.
Meanwhile, Rev Chris Hudson, a minister with the All Souls Church in Belfast – a non-subscribing Church of Ireland – said his counterparts in the rest of the UK are already allowed to officiate same-sex weddings, but he has been left out in the cold.
“The present situation must not be allowed to continue as it is deeply painful to same sex couples who are people of faith,” he said.
Under proposed changes, religious institutions would be allowed to offer same-sex weddings if they choose to do so.
Meanwhile, change is needed for the 1,200 couples in Northern Ireland who are currently in civil partnerships.
Campaigners argue that they should be able to convert these into marriages trough a simple administrative process – but they are currently unable to do so.
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