Michael Staines
Michael Staines

07.27 22 Oct 2019


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The first same-sex marriages are expected to take in place in Northern Ireland around Valentine's Day.

However, it will be further into 2020 before women can access pregnancy termination services.

Abortion and same-sex marriage were both legalised in the North at midnight last night.

The changes were enforced from Westminster in the absence of a sitting executive at Stormont.

Legislation allowing for same-sex marriage will be finalised by early January – with the first union expected around by February.

Meanwhile, laws criminalising abortion have now lapsed with legislation allowing for terminations expected to be complete by April.

In the meantime, women will be offered free transport to access services in England.

Legislation

Amnesty International spokesperson Grainne Teggart said there is a lot of work to be done before the legal changes are finalised.

“Regulations have to be put in place by January 10th so therefore we expect the first same-sex marriages to take place on or around Valentines’ Day,” she said.

“Equally, for abortion access here, what we will now see is a short consultation period of eight to ten weeks where there will be regulations put in place that will govern abortion access here.

“That has to be done by the March 31st 2020.”

Campaign

Meanwhile, the Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have described the repeal of the abortion ban as 'a tragic day for unborn children.'

DUP leader Arlene Foster described the reforms as 'sad' and 'shameful.'

Sinn Fein’s leader in the North Michelle O'Neill said the changes marked a “huge step forward” for LGBT+ and workers’ rights.

She paid tribute to the campaigners that helped bring about the change.

 

“I send solidarity to all those people that have been actively out on the ground campaigning for rights to be delivered to all sections of our society,” she said.

“Solidarity to all those activists that have worked so hard to deliver marriage equality to all those people who just wanted to get married and to have that recognised in law.”

Stormont

The changes came despite a last-ditch attempt to recall the Stormont Assembly and block the changes from 31 unionist MLAs.

The MLAs held a sitting at Stormont yesterday afternoon; however, they were unable to prevent the changes going through as they did not have the numbers needed to appoint an Executive.

Main image is a file photo of a couple campaigning for equal marriage rights in Dublin, 14-04-2013. Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA Images

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