Friday June 21, 2019
Home Lead Story Belfast Deman...

Belfast Demands Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in Northern Ireland

“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage, says UK citizens

0
//
same-sex marriage
A mural featuring journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed in April, allegedly by republican paramilitaries, is pictured in central Belfast, May 7, 2019. On Saturday, McKee's partner marched for same-sex marriage rights. VOA

Thousands of people marched through Belfast Saturday to demand the recognition of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, the only region of the United Kingdom where it does not have legal status.

Attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor.

Sara Canning, the partner of journalist and LGBT rights campaigner Lyra McKee who was killed in April, led the march alongside a number of gay and lesbian couples. Canning said that she and McKee had been planning to marry.

same-sex marriage
“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage”, says UK. VOA

“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage” as the rest of the United Kingdom, said Canning, who was wearing a “Love Equality” T-shirt. Protesters waved rainbow flags and placards saying “Love is a human right.”

ALSO READ: Taiwan’s Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Mass Weddings Planned

Protesters called on May’s government to bypass the DUP and introduce legislation in the British parliament in Westminster. The Northern Ireland power-sharing government has been frozen for two years because of disagreement between the DUP and the largest Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein.

“If Stormont is incapable of delivering equality for people here, then it is the responsibility of the Westminster to end discrimination against the LGBT community,” Amnesty International spokesman Patrick Corrigan said. (VOA)

Next Story

First Same-Sex Couple Ties Knot in Taiwan

Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage

0
same-sex marriage
Gay and lesbian newlyweds kiss at a same-sex marriage party after registering their marriages in Taipei, Taiwan, May 24, 2019. VOA

Same-sex couples tied the knot in emotional scenes in Taiwan on Friday, the first legal marriages in Asia hailed by activists as a social revolution for the region. Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage.

More than 160 same-sex couples married Friday, according to government data, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.

Twenty couples queued to tie the knot at a marriage registration office in downtown Taipei, where rainbow flags were on display alongside stacks of government-issued, rainbow-themed registration forms.

“I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud to everyone: I am gay and I am getting married,” said Shane Lin, a 31-year-old baker who with his partner were the first couple to register in the Taipei office. “I am extremely proud of my country Taiwan,” said a tearful Lin.

The euphoria and emotion among the island’s gay community was on display as newly-wed couples walked down a rainbow-colored carpet in a nearby park, watched by families and friends as well as diplomats and reporters.

same-sex marriage
Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag at a same-sex marriage party after registering their marriage in Taipei, Taiwan, May 24, 2019. VOA

‘The right we deserved’

Chi Chia-wei, an activist who brought a case to Taiwan’s constitutional court that led to a landmark court ruling on same-sex marriage in 2017, congratulated the couples.

“This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago,” he said, draped in a giant rainbow flag that symbolizes the colors of the international gay movement.

“As a beacon in Asia, I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights could have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia,” he added.

Supporters also celebrated on social media, sharing posts with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement.

Friday’s celebration followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in the 2017 declaration by the constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

Marriage equality was backed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for a second term in elections next year.

same-sex marriage
Gay couple Cynical Chick, left, and Li Ying-Chien display the wedding certificate at the Household Registration Office in Shinyi district in Taipei, May 24, 2019. VOA

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.

It marks another milestone in Taiwan’s development as one of the region’s more liberal societies, in contrast with China’s strongly autocratic government.

ALSO READ: Taiwan’s Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Mass Weddings Planned

Across the strait, many Chinese congratulated Taiwan’s newlywed same-sex couples on platforms such as Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“For once I thought the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan would impact on the Chinese government, making them heed our appeals,” one Weibo user said. “But then I found the shock actually makes the government more scared, stepping up their crackdown on us.” (VOA)