British politicians in Westminster have voted to legalise same-sex marriage and decriminalise abortion in the North if devolution is not restored by October 21st.
The amendments were included in a wider debate on keeping Northern institutions running in the absence of the Stormont Executive.
Both votes were passed overwhelmingly after MPs were given free votes.
The debate was called to allow politicians discuss plans to extend the period before fresh elections must be called, in the hope that the main parties in the North can reach agreement.
The same-sex marriage amendment was backed by 383 votes to 73, while the abortion amendment was backed 332 to 99.
Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Government since the Executive collapsed amid the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal in 2017.
Talks aimed at ending the impasse have repeatedly stalled with the DUP and Sinn Féin failing to see eye-to-eye on a range of issues - including the Irish language and citizen’s rights.
If the talks are successful and devolution restored, Stormont will have the power to overturn or amend the new laws.
The proposal to legalise same-sex marriage was put forward by Labour MP Conor McGinn, who is originally from south Armagh but is an MP for St Helen’s North.
He labelled the vote a “fantastic victory” for anyone who has campaigned over many years for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
“I hope to see the Northern Ireland Executive restored and working by October 21st so that they can take the decision to introduce equal marriage,” he said.
“But if Stormont is not functioning by then, the LGBT community in Northern Ireland now know that Westminster will act to ensure equality and respect for all citizens and finally give them the right to marry the person they love.”
The abortion amendment was put forward by his Labour colleague Stella Creacy.
After the vote, she warned that there is “still a road to go” but welcomed the result as a “big step forward.”
Thank you to everyone who today stood up for equality in Northern Ireland - whether for same sex marriage or abortion, today we have said everyone in the UK deserves to be treated as an equal. There’s a road to go yet but today a big step forward #TheNorthISNext #LoveEquality
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) July 9, 2019
A large number of Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs broke with their tradition of abstaining on devolved issues to support both amendments.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posted on Twitter: "Would rather the Northern Ireland Assembly was doing this but in its absence, marriage equality and human rights can't wait.
"This is the right decision in the circumstances."
Would rather the Northern Ireland Assembly was doing this but in its absence, marriage equality and human rights can’t wait. This is the right decision in the circumstances. ❤️ 🌈 https://t.co/zvaCUurVoX
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 9, 2019