At the stroke of midnight last night, same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland became a reality after years of campaigning by local equality advocates. The region was the last remaining part of the UK not to recognize same-sex marriage.
The relief and joy felt by many in the region was perfectly encapsulated by the reaction at one gay bar.
— Kevin Scott (@Kscott_94) October 21, 2019
The bar, Maverick in Belfast, held a countdown party with a local drag queen, Titti Von Tramp. When the clock ticked down to midnight, the entire bar erupted into cheers while confetti cannons blasted confetti over their heads.
Von Tramp shouted, “We can love who we want to love … and they can do nothing about it! We are equal! We are proud to be who we are!”
“Last night was an Unforgettable occasion,” bar spokesperson Aaron Eakin told Queerty. “I think we all knew this was a special moment in history and we wanted to share it with our LGBT+ community.
“The atmosphere was absolutely electric. Our hostess, prominent Belfast Drag queen Titti Von Tramp, did a countdown to midnight with her own ‘very unique’ commentary. When the moment actually arrived, the cheers were deafening.
“There was just a feeling of pure joy and relief. Although it was a party atmosphere, it was actually very emotional and a moment we will all treasure.”
Von Tramp told Queerty: “We as a community fight every day to be accepted and hopefully this is a battle won in a much larger war on discrimination and hate that we suffer on a day-to-day basis.”
Same-sex marriage became legal in England, Scotland, and Wales in 2014. It was held back in Northern Ireland because a political party, the DUP, consistently blocked legislation.
However, the Parliament in Northern Ireland, which meets at Stormont in Belfast, has been suspended since the DUP and the region’s other power-sharing ruling party, Sinn Féin, fell out with one another in January 2017.
It has left the region politically paralyzed for over 1,000 days.
With no end in sight to the impasse, the British Parliament in London stepped in. It ruled in July that if Stormont failed to re-establish itself by October, 21, it would introduce new laws to the region. These included same-sex marriage and legalized abortion.
The intervention by Westminster means Northern Ireland officials will be instructed to start amending regulations to allow same-sex couples to marry. This is expected to take 12 weeks. From 13 January 2020, couples will be able to give 28 days’ notice to marry. The first weddings are expected on Valentine’s Day 2020.
In a region steeped in religious dogma and sectarian troubles, it’s hard to downplay the significance of these law changes.
By midnight tonight Marriage Equality will be legally recognised in Northern Ireland!
— Blu Hydrangea (@BluHydrangea_) October 21, 2019
Waking up to a very different place than yesterday, and all for the better! Amazing to see photos of same sex couples getting engaged after midnight last night & knowing women won’t be criminalised for choosing what to do with their bodies ???#TheNorthIsNow
— Bronagh Bradley (@bronagh92) October 22, 2019
— Greg Owen (@Greg0wen) October 21, 2019
We first made this graphic four years ago when Ireland voted YES in the Marriage Equality referendum, but Northern Ireland was blanked out..
— Queer Greens ???? (@queergreens) October 22, 2019
Congratulations on marriage equality, Northern Ireland!
— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) October 21, 2019