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Image / Editorial

First same-sex marriage to take place in Northern Ireland today

by Edaein OConnell
11th Feb 2020

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples will become the first same-sex couple to get married in Northern Ireland under new laws which were passed last year

The first same-sex marriage will take place in Northern Ireland today.

Belfast couple Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples will marry in Antrim on the sixth anniversary of their relationship. The couple had booked the date months before the landmark law was passed.

Same-sex marriage was legalised following an end to the power-sharing struggles of Stormont. Decisions on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights were stalled. In July of last year, UK lawmakers voted for an amendment which forced the UK government to extend same-sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland.

In an interview with Channel 5 News, Sharni said, “it was a long time coming” and they were “humbled” to be the first same-sex couple to marry in Northern Ireland.

“We just want to show the world our love is real and it’s exactly the same as everyone else’s love out there.”

Robyn added, “If the law sees us as equal, people growing up will have that, stereotypes will change with time. Now kids can see from a young age ‘they’re getting married, they’re equal, that’s okay.'”


A long time coming

Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long said this day “was a long time coming.”

She added, “There have been many campaigns to promote the cause of equal marriage, and while Sharni and Robyn celebrate taking their vows, I have no doubt many others will also be celebrating this milestone in the recognition of equal rights.”

Sara Canning – the partner of Lyra McKee, the journalist who was killed in Derry last April – will attend a UK parliamentary event this evening to celebrate the law along with MPs and campaigners from Amnesty International and the Love Equality campaign. Speaking to RTÉ she said, “What a wonderful moment in our history… This really means so much and has brought me some much-needed light in what has been a dark year.”

She added, “I know Lyra would have been so overjoyed to see this day. She was a strong advocate for equal marriage and we both took part in the marches organised by the Love Equality campaign.”

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