Couples to challenge Northern Ireland ban on gay marriage
Two couples have cleared the first legal hurdle in their bid to challenge a ban on gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
A judge in Belfast High Court granted them leave to judicially review the refusal to legalise same-sex marriage in the region. Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane are taking the joint action. They were the first and second couples in the UK to enter into a civil partnership after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to make that option available in December 2005.
However, the Northern Assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage on four occasions since, with unionists opposed to the move using a contentious voting mechanism to effectively veto it. Following May's marriage referendum in the Republic, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland where gay marriage is banned.