A judge in Northern Ireland has
dismissed two challenges to the nation's laws that do not allow gay
and lesbian couples to marry.
According to the Belfast Telegraph,
Mr. Justice O'Hara disagreed with plaintiffs, saying that the ban did
not violate the rights of LGBT couples.
Northern Ireland is the only part of
the United Kingdom where such rights are not extended to gay couples.
Northern Ireland recognizes gay couples with civil unions.
O'Hara also ruled that downgrading the
marriages of gay couples to civil unions when they move to Northern
Ireland is lawful.
One of the cases revolves around two
couples in civil partnerships who were denied marriage licenses. A
married male couple is fighting the ban in the second case. They
argue that their British marriage should be recognized by Northern
Ireland. They also claim that the government discriminated against
them when it “downgraded” their marriage when they moved to
The cases were combined because of
O'Hara dismissed both cases, saying
that none of the couples' rights had been violated under European
“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,” O'Hara
wrote. “However, the judgment which I have to reach is not
based on social policy but on the law.”
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has
blocked efforts to introduce same-sex marriage in the region.
PM Leo Vardkar says same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland only a
matter of time.)