NewsNorthern Ireland

Two couples to go to court in Belfast to challenge gay marriage ban

Shannon Sickles (right) and Grainne Close
Shannon Sickles (right) and Grainne Close

Two couples will go to court in Northern Ireland today to mount a legal challenge against the ban on gay marriage.

They are applying to Belfast High Court for leave to have the refusal to legalise same-sex marriage judicially reviewed.

Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane are taking the joint action.

They were, respectively, 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 to same-sex couples in December 2005.

However, the Northern Ireland 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 the "Yes" vote in May's referendum on marriage equality here, Northern Ireland is now set to be the only part of the UK or Ireland where civil marriage is denied to gay couples.

Earlier this month, about 20,000 campaigners marched in Belfast city centre demanding a change in the law.