The High Court in Belfast has today rejected a claim brought by a same-sex couple who got married in England and wanted to have their marriage legally recognised in Northern Ireland, and by two other couples who wished to challenge the failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legalise same-sex marriages.
The judge ruled that the couples are not being unlawfully discriminated against by the state only recognising civil partnerships. Humanists UK and its section Northern Ireland Humanists, which have long campaigned for legal same-sex marriages, have expressed disappointment at the decisions.
This summer, model and public speaker Laura Lacole and Leeds United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Eunan O’Kane have been taking a case to gain legal recognition for humanist marriages in Northern Ireland.
Humanists UK has been supporting them in bringing their claim, and the couple have been working with the same legal team who took one of the same-sex marriage cases today.
The couple won the case at the High Court in June, but the Government has appealed. It will be heard again at the Court of Appeal on September 11.
Northern Ireland Humanists coordinator Boyd Sleator, said: “We’re sad to see today’s judgments. The result is that Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK where legally married same-sex couples are denied recognition of their union by the state, and the only part of the UK where loving and committed same-sex couples cannot get married.
“Northern Ireland’s ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples brings shame on us all. We hope the judgments are appealed, and that one day soon, our lawmakers will accept that love is love, and will at last bring the law in line with public opinion, which overwhelmingly favours marriage equality.”
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