Gay marriage and abortion are now also permitted in Northern Ireland

gay marriage

In the British province of Northern Ireland, same-sex marriage and abortion are now also permitted (under certain conditions). Laws enabling that went into effect Tuesday.

Northern Ireland delegates to the British Parliament in London had already voted in favor of the legislative changes in July, but the Northern Ireland Parliament in Belfast had until Monday to make any changes if they so wished.

The Northern Ireland parliament, which has been suspended since January 2017 and no longer meets, met briefly on Monday for a special session. But without the support of the opposition parties, opponents could not stop the laws.

Julian Smith, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said the ban on abortions has now been withdrawn, and legislation is now underway to include the medical procedure in hospitals.

Same-sex marriage arrangements are due on January 13 of next year. That means the first civil marriages between people of the same sex take place on the week of Valentine's Day, Smith said.

Several hundred supporters and opponents of the new laws had gathered outside the parliament building in Belfast on Monday. This is a very important moment and the beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland, in which we will be free from oppressive laws, said Amnesty International's Northern Ireland campaign manager.