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Northern Ireland High Court Dismisses Two Calls For Same-Sex Marriage Recognition

Northern Ireland High Court Dismisses Two Calls For Same-Sex Marriage Recognition

Northern Ireland's ban on marriage equality has been upheld after a Belfast high court dismissed two landmark legal challenges.

Mr Justice O'Hara said: "It is not at all hard to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage".

"It is not at all hard to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection, and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same sex marriage".

Instead, gay couples are only permitted to have Civil Partnerships, which are legally different to marriages.

Quoting a previous statement by Northern Ireland's chief human rights commissioner, he said that this is clear from "the global treaties and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee".

One of the cases revolves around two couples in civil partnerships who were denied marriage licenses.

Stormont's Attorney General John Larkin also argued against the legal challenge.

The second case was brought by a couple who Wednesday in England but want their marriage legally recognised at home in Northern Ireland.

The two couples involved in the case - Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles, and Chris Flanagan-Kane and Henry Flanagan-Kane - were the first couples in the United Kingdom to enter into a civil partnership when they were registered at Belfast city hall on December 19, 2005.

"It's not the role of a judge to decide social policy, that is for the Executive and the Assembly under our constitution", he said, referring to the government structures of Northern Ireland.

"It is not at all hard to understand how gay men and lesbians who have suffered discrimination, rejection and exclusion feel so strongly about the maintenance in Northern Ireland of the barrier to same-sex marriage", O'Hara wrote.

"The judgement which I have to reach is not based on social policy but on the law".

Ms Close said she was "devastated" by the ruling. What it shows is that more work needs to be done to explain a truth that to us is self-evident: The love that two men or two women share is never a threat to society.

'The legislation says to lawfully married people that they are no longer married.

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.

"Our fight to have our love recognised continues and we will discuss our options with our legal team".

Northern Ireland's High Court will rule on marriage equality today (17 August).

He told Q Radio that Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has a responsibility to act.

The case was brought by three same-sex couples, backed by campaigners who are trying to pressure the region's largest party, the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to reverse its veto on same-sex marriage.

The DUP insists it is not homophobic and is only defending the "traditional" definition of marriage.