The Northern Ireland government has amended a law which was preventing same-sex couples from converting civil partnerships into marriages, meaning the country now has complete marriage equality. Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland have been allowed to marry since January but the legislation did not extend to civil partnerships. The new law, introduced by minister Robin Walker, was passed on Thursday 22 October and is expected to be enforced from December 7 onwards. There are reportedly over 1,000 LGBTQ+ couples waiting to convert their civil partnerships who will have a three year window to do so after the law is made official.
Walker told the BBC: “It is right that all couples in Northern Ireland now have access to the equivalent legal relationships and associated rights, protections and entitlements, as couples living in the rest of the UK, and I am pleased that we have been able to bring forward the necessary regulations to make this possible.”
LGBTQ+ couples and activists in the country are celebrating the change. Patrick Corrigan, director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland, said in a statement: “This law change is the final piece of the jigsaw in bringing marriage equality to Northern Ireland. It’s a huge day of celebration. We fought to change the law so it would cherish all couples and all families equally and now we have achieved that – first with civil marriage, then religious marriage and now finally, with civil partnership conversion.”