Family Court Practice, The
Order the 2021 edition due out in May
Court of Protection Practice 2021
'Court of Protection Practice goes from strength to strength, having...
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition
Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative specialist text...
Latest articles
Disabled women more than twice as likely to experience domestic abuse
The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that, in the year ending March 2020, around 1 in 7 (14.3%) disabled people aged 16 to 59 years experienced any form of domestic abuse in...
The President of the Family Division endorses Public Law Working Group report
The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published a message from the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in which the President endorses the publication of the President’s...
HMCTS updates online divorce services guidance
HM Courts and Tribunals Service have recently updated the online divorce services guidance with the addition of guides for deemed and dispensed service applications, alternative service...
Become the new General Editor of The Family Court Practice, the definitive word on family law and procedure
The Family Court Practice (‘The Red Book’) is widely acknowledged as the leading court reference work for all family practitioners and the judiciary. We are currently recruiting a...
The suspension, during lockdown, of prison visits for children: was it lawful?
Jake Richards, 9 Gough ChambersThis article argues that the suspension on prison visits during this period and the deficiency of measures to mitigate the impact of this on family life and to protect...
View all articles

Same sex marriage in Northern Ireland… finally?

Jul 18, 2019, 10:05 AM
same sex marriage, Northern Ireland
Slug :
Meta Title : Same sex marriage in Northern Ireland… finally?
Meta Keywords :
Canonical URL :
Trending Article : Yes
Prioritise In Trending Articles : Yes
Date : Jul 18, 2019, 10:02 AM
Article ID :

The House of Commons last week voted in favour of permitting same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, with 383 MPs voting in favour and 73 against the proposed change. Northern Ireland is the only remaining part of the UK that does not permit same-sex marriage; the law was changed in England & Wales in July 2013, and the changes came into force in March 2014. In Scotland the law was changed in February 2014 and came into force in December of the same year. The Republic of Ireland has allowed same-sex marriage since May 2015 following a referendum, making it the only country in the world to make the change to the law by a public vote.

However, in the case of Northern Ireland, the constitutional background to the vote itself and how this affects the next steps for same-sex marriage there should not be overlooked; the vote and its outcome have wider political significance.

The question of same sex marriage would ordinarily be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly as it is covered by devolved power. Yet the collapse of the power-sharing agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein back in January 2017 means that devolution is effectively suspended. If devolution is not restored by 21 October of this year then the government is compelled to make the necessary changes to the law to permit same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. On that basis, same-sex marriage is not yet permitted in Northern Ireland but its political climate – with the DUP opposing same-sex marriage and Sinn Fein supporting it – means the restoration of devolution and therefore a derailing of the path towards same-sex marriage seem unlikely.

The progress made through Parliament needs to be seen in a wider context. There was a challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage brought in Northern Ireland in 2015. The case raised fundamental questions of human rights and access to relationship status for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The arguments in favour were rejected by the Court on this occasion.  The issue of access to relationship status was said to be a political one not a judicial one. This year’s Reith Lecturer , Jonathan Sumption, Formerly of the UK Supreme Court, made the same point and suggested in his lecture series that law was being expanded by judges too far and it needed to be limited. In the case of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland this is/was disappointing when law reform had occurred previously in other parts of the UK.

If devolution has not been restored by 21 October, no further vote in the House of Commons would be necessary for the change in the law to take place. The Bill required to implement the change to the law would need approval in the House of Lords but given the strength of support shown in the House of Commons, any significant opposition would be unexpected. 

Categories :
  • Articles
Tags :
  • equal marriage
  • northern ireland
  • Same sex marriage
Provider :
Product Bucket : Same Sex
Load more comments
Comment by from