Seismic social tremors were felt at Belfast gay equality march

Protestors take part in a march for same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. 
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Protestors take part in a march for same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

On Saturday the 1st of July, a wave of rainbow colours bedecked the otherwise dreary and wet Belfast city centre.

An atmosphere of determined positivity fuelled by an abundant sense of injustice loomed over the great city of Belfast.

Crowds at the march for same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. Pic Colm Lenaghan Pacemaker

Crowds at the march for same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. Pic Colm Lenaghan Pacemaker

I had the privilege of marching with an estimated 20,000 other people on City Hall in support of the legalisation of the right to get married for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland.

This march was a clear message that Northern Ireland is hungry for change on this issue. If my maths is correct, over 1.1% of Northern Ireland’s population marched from Writer’s Square to Royal Avenue in support of marriage equality, an astounding figure.

Among these were a diverse array of people from different backgrounds, faiths and political persuasions.

A rainbow coalition of equality united in our goal to force progress on this issue. Everyone from trade unions, charities, faith groups and political party representatives were in attendance.

Christian supporters of same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. Pic Colm Lenaghan Pacemaker

Christian supporters of same-sex marriage in Belfast on Saturday July 1. Pic Colm Lenaghan Pacemaker

Never in my life have I encountered such a positive and happy atmosphere, mixed with a strong sense of motivation and determination. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was just an incredible atmosphere to be a part of.

On arriving at City Hall, we listened to many different speakers as the rain drizzled down on us.

One of the speakers was the father of a gay man who wanted his son to be given the same right to marry as he has. He said, “no one ever told me ‘hold on a minute, you cannot marry the person you love’ so why should anyone else be told that?”

He went on to say, “next time we have an election, when you go to put your X or 1 2 3 on a ballot paper stop and think of the power you have and consider which politicians will treat everyone with love”.

We also heard from same-sex couples who were defiant of the current ban on equal marriage, exclaiming that they would not be forced into going across the water or across the border to get married when this is their home. Truly moving orations by both couples.

We heard another very impassioned oration where it was exclaimed “This is not about religion, this is about human rights! This is a human rights issue!”

This was very well received by the thousands in Royal Avenue.

The times are changing and seismic social tremors were felt through Belfast city centre that Saturday.

We are closer than ever to achieving our goal of allowing same-sex couples the same rights to marry as everyone else in Northern Ireland.

We must remember, however, that we have not achieved victory yet and we must continue our support for the cause through attending events like the Belfast march and spreading the word.

If we stay determined we will achieve equality in Northern Ireland at long last.

Western Europe’s little postage stamp of inequality will soon be liberated.

Jamie Kennedy, Shrigley, Co Down