Thousands turn out in support of gay marriage in Belfast rally

Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality

Around 20,000 gay rights campaigners have marched in Belfast demanding a change in the law to allow gay marriage.

The crowd, organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project, said they want parity with the rest of the UK and Ireland in permitting civil marriage for gay couples.

Addressing the rally, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: “Isn’t this the most beautiful march and rally Belfast has ever seen? A march about love.

“We are all here today because of a simple idea: all people are equal. The state should treat all people equally.

“Marriage equality is a human rights issue. Human rights are very clear on the issue of equality. Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.

“So it is simply unacceptable for the state to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Amnesty International believes that states should end discrimination on this basis and instead ensure that all families are equally protected before the law.

“That’s why we are on the march today and why we will walk every step of the way with you and the LGBTI community, and why we will not stop until every one of us can enjoy the same rights and recognition before the law.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage after debating the issue for a fourth time.

Sinn Fein said equality rights for same-sex couples must be shared by citizens in the north and it will continue to campaign for the reform.

Other high profile supporters of the campaign include singer Brian Kennedy and Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes.

Singer Bronagh Gallagher, supported by Quire, Belfast’s LGBT choir, performed at the Belfast City Hall rally, which followed the march from the Ulster University on York Street.