A campaign group has said that Northern Ireland is now looking even more isolated after yet another part of the British Isles legalised gay marriage.
As of Friday, same sex unions became legal on the Isle of Man, following on from similar changes to the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, and the Irish Republic.
Amnesty International, which has pressed for gay marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland too, said that “it is thought the island’s first same-sex marriage is due to take place at the end of July”.
Its director Patrick Corrigan said in a statement that the change in the law for the island “throws into sharp contrast the situation facing gay and lesbian couples in Northern Ireland, who are still denied the right to get married by their government”.
The statement added: “Amnesty considers Northern Ireland law to be in breach of international human rights standards which specify that countries must not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The island’s new law – The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Act 2016 – will also allow heterosexual couples to have civil partnerships instead of marriages if they prefer.
Last autumn, the Stormont Assembly voted 53 MLAs to 52 in favour of permitting gay marriage (with one abstention).
However, the “petition of concern” from the DUP meant the proposal could only have succeeded if a sufficient number of both unionist and nationalist MLAs backed it – something which scuppered the motion’s chances of success, since it was the largest unionist party.