New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
21 October 2019

Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland set for Valentine’s Day weddings

Westminster will legalise gay marriage and abortion at midnight tonight.

By Patrick Maguire

Same sex couples will be able to marry in Northern Ireland in time for Valentine’s Day. 

Under the terms of an amendment to devolution legislation passed by MPs in July, Westminster must legislate for marriage equality and heterosexual civil partnerships if a Stormont executive is not restored today.

The Assembly will meet today to discuss Northern Ireland’s bar on abortion which will also be lifted if power-sharing does not return today after the DUP lodged a successful recall petition. But Sinn Féin, without whom there cannot be an executive, will not participate.

As a result, Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland Secretary, will lay statutory instruments legalising equal marriage, abortion and a pension for victims of the Troubles later today. They will come into force at midnight. 

Under the terms of the same-sex marriage amendment tabled by Labour MP Conor McGinn and Conservative peer Robert Hayward, the change in the law must take effect by 13 January next year. Same-sex couples will be able to give notice of their intention to marry from that day. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Northern Ireland Office sources confirmed that the first marriages and civil partnerships under the new law will take place 28 days later, in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors