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Today another major step on road to equality says Blair, after equal marriage regulations laid

Today is another major step on the road to equality, Alliance MLA John Blair has said, after the UK Government laid regulations in Parliament allowing for religious equal marriage to come into effect in Northern Ireland from September 1.

The regulations will bring similar rights and protections as seen in England and Wales, including no church or religious building being compelled to carry out a ceremony. The first religious weddings will be able to take place by the end of September. The Government has also confirmed regulations meaning same-sex couples can convert their civil partnership to a marriage if they wish will follow before the end of the year.

“This has been a long journey for many people to get to this stage and today is testament to the years of campaigning across these islands,” said Mr Blair.

“Equal marriage is a reality in Northern Ireland and now religious equal marriage will be too. I hope the ability to convert civil partnerships will also come as soon as possible. Despite appearances sometimes, we are an open and welcoming place, with the vast majority of people supporting this move.

“Love is a basic human right and couples should have the right to express that publicly in a religious wedding ceremony if they so wish. For a long time, it was embarrassing to come from the only part of these islands to deny a basic right. Today we have seen another major step on the road to full equality.”