A BID to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has failed.
Unionists voted down a motion at Stormont's Assembly which called on the power-sharing ministerial Executive to legislate.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without marriage rights for gay couples.
The issue sparked impassioned debate, with protests outside the legislature and verbal clashes between campaigners in favour of or opposed to the change. Amnesty International has warned of a likely legal challenge.
Sinn Fein South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane said: "Attitudes in Ireland are changing because people do not want to see people discriminated against.
"The gay community has said enough is enough, they are standing up for themselves and their communities."
She claimed young people were turning to suicide by because of the taunts.
"If they don't have an alternative voice to the vitriolic gay bashing they will internalise it," she said.
"There is no room for sitting on the fence on this, this is about fighting for all our children's rights."
Church leaders had urged Assembly members to vote against the legislation, with the Catholic church asserting marriage was between a man and a woman.
However, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's orthern Ireland programme director, said: "States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."
Today's petition of concern at the Assembly tabled by the largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, ensured Sinn Fein's motion would be defeated after a majority of unionists failed to back the change.