Dr Gustavo Bussmann discusses legalising same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. How we can influence other countries to follow suit by our example. Gustavo provides expert Human Rights reports for those seeking to claim asylum in the UK.
Same-Sex marriage legal in Northern Ireland from January 2020
Even though same-sex marriage has been legal in England, Wales and Scotland since 2014, it was not until earlier this week when the winds of change blew in Northern Ireland.
On Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, a new law came into force legalising same-sex marriage across the Union by 13th January 2020.
After this date, couples can officially give notice of their intention to get married. Once approved, after 28 days, proceed with the registry. The first same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland are due right in time for Valentine’s Day.
Background to the Bill
It is important to acknowledge the years of campaigning, protests and advocacy. As well as so many other attempts to bring legal equality to every citizen in the UK. The path forged by the activists and champions of equality has been implacable in the mission to challenge oppression against LGBT people – but is far from over.
We need to acknowledge, support and ultimately celebrate, every aspect of an individual’s identity. While remembering that over 75,000 young LGBT people are still bullied at school every year in the UK. Same sex relationships are still criminalised in more than 70 countries in the world. Special attention has to be directed to Commonwealth countries (some of which where I write expert-reports about the protection of LGBT citizens). The difficulties promoted by a society that do not embrace non-heterosexual marriage (and citizens) include fostering feelings of self-denial, anguish, shame, isolation and even self-hatred. This may lead to an inability to be open about one’s sexuality.
The Next Steps
The next step to be taken, in this sense, is to continue with the fight to transform LGBT people’s reality. Transformation can be achieved if we lead by example to the rest of the world. Our new legal framework, spreads a message that the government is willing to promote a tolerant and inclusive society. We hope and push for more transformation to achieve close relationships between individuals of various cultural, religious and economic backgrounds. Not only the right to establishing and formalising same-sex relationships, but to develop them without fear and with a sense of belonging.
We, therefore, cheer the decision whilst acknowledging our cultural duty to keep fighting for equality, representation in arts and literature, material equality in the UK and elsewhere. This week’s decision is emblematic, but should not conceal the necessity of ongoing efforts to raise awareness. As well as, to spread the visibility still necessary for those who happen to love others of their same sex.