Judge dismisses Northern Ireland same-sex marriage cases

The High Court has dismissed two cases challenging Northern Ireland's ban on same-sex marriage. Delivering his judgement, a judge said it was for the Stormont Assembly, and not a judge, to decide social policy.

A joint case was taken by the first lesbian couple and the first gay couple to enter civil partnerships in the UK. A second case brought by a couple who wed in England but want their marriage legally recognised at home in Northern Ireland. The judge heard the cases together due to the similarities of the legal arguments.

Mr Justice O'Hara said: "It is not at all difficult 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.

"However, the judgment which I have to reach is not based on social policy but on the law."

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland but is banned in Northern Ireland. Shannon Sickles, Grainne Close, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane were challenging Stormont's refusal to legislate for same-sex marriage.


    During the joint challenge to the law in Northern Ireland, the couple's lawyers argued that the ban breaches Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, by denying respect for their private and family lives. But a lawyer for Stormont's Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) countered that the ban was not a breach of human rights and that civil partnerships already met the minimum requirements set out under human rights law. Read more via BBC