Changes to the law in NI in respect of same sex marriage

On 9th July 2019 a Labour MP, originally from Northern Ireland, put forward a proposal to the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill to legislate for same sex marriage if Stormont was not restored by 21st October 2019.  His colleague, Stella Creasy, put forward an amendment to liberalise abortion laws in Northern Ireland if devolution was not restored.  MPs overwhelmingly voted in support of both amendments.

If the Stormont Assembly has not been restored by 21st October, the government must bring regulations to Parliament to amend the law in Northern Ireland on same sex marriage.  It would then proceed through the House of Commons as a secondary legislation, statutory instrument. It would not be put to a vote on the Commons floor.  The bill would then have to proceed to the House of Lords for approval and political analysis would suggest that it is very unlikely that it would be overturned there.

England and Wales legalised same sex marriage in July 2013 and the law came into force in March 2014.  Scotland legislated for same sex marriage in 2014 and that came into effect in December of 2014.  The Republic of Ireland legalised same sex marriage in a referendum in May 2015 – becoming the only country in the world to do so by popular vote.  Ireland’s first same sex marriage took place in November 2015.

It remains to be seen what stance is taken by the Northern Ireland Secretary and Stormont.  We will report on any changes in the law as they happen.  If you have any query in relation to either same sex marriage or abortion laws please do not hesitate to contact our office.