The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland is will hear the appeal this week of a man from the Province who entered a same sex marriage in London.
The legislation which enabled the wedding, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, only applies in England and Wales. Scotland later legalised gay marriage north of the border, leaving Northern Ireland as the only part of the United Kingdom yet to recognise same sex unions, despite opinion polls which show strong public support. Marriages formed in other parts of the UK are classed as civil partnerships. The plaintiff was unsatisfied with this compromise, and applied for full recognition of his marriage in Northern Ireland, arguing that that failing to do so was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
His original case, before Mr Justice O’Hara, was unsuccessful. The Judge said there was, as yet, no basis in law for the claim that restrictions on the right to marry were a breach of human rights. Making such a declaration would, he insisted, put him at odds with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
By contrast with same sex marriage, civil partnerships were introduced across the UK during a period in Northern Ireland of direct rule in from London, and a result they have always been available in the Province.
You can read Re X, the case under appeal, here.