Gay marriage law ‘will be changed by courts’

Lady Portia Di'Monte (Marcus Neill-Hunter) leads marriage equality campaigners outside Belfast City Hall on Friday ahead of Saturday's demonstration
Lady Portia Di'Monte (Marcus Neill-Hunter) leads marriage equality campaigners outside Belfast City Hall on Friday ahead of Saturday's demonstration

A campaigner for gay marriage has told the majority of MLAs who have rejected changing the law that there is “only one result” which is acceptable and said that the law will be changed by the courts if politicians continue their stance.

The confident prediction came from the leader of the student movement in Northern Ireland, Rebecca Hall, as campaigners for gay marriage on Saturday attempt a different tactic after seeing the Stormont Assembly repeatedly refuse to change the law.

In April, the Assembly voted for the fourth time in recent years to reject same-sex marriage.

But a conglomeration of groups supporting a change to the marriage laws will lead a march through Belfast in an attempt to keep the issue high up the political agenda.

Organisers of the march – who include Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project – said that they expect thousands of people to take to the streets.

Rebecca Hall, president of NUS-USI, the umbrella body for student unions in Northern Ireland, said: “What is it going to take for those who block progress and block marriage equality here to change their minds?

“Do they not realise or care how their actions damage Northern Ireland’s reputation globally?

“This rally will further demonstrate the massive groundswell of support across the community for equality.

“Politicians would do well to listen to the mood of the public, because there will only ever be one result, and they must not find themselves trapped on the wrong side of history.

“We will achieve marriage equality through the courts, if politicians here do not deliver it as a matter of urgency.”

Belfast author Glenn Patterson, who will chair the rally, said that he wanted to see the changes in the Republic and Great Britain extended to Northern Ireland.

He said: “Almost all of Europe has shown it supports marriage equality.

“This Saturday we have the opportunity to say – to our politicians, to anyone with an ear to hear – we too.”

Actress and newspaper columnist Nuala McKeever, who will also address the rally, said: “We have a wonderful chance in Northern Ireland to stand up for tolerance and love and to say to our law-makers, ‘The days of discriminating against people, based on religious teachings, are over’.”

Singer Brian Kennedy and Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes have supported the march, which begins at 2.30pm from Ulster University.