Same-sex marriage cases dismissed by Northern Ireland High Court

The High Court in Belfast has today rejected a claim brought by a same-sex couple who got married in England and wanted to have their marriage legally recognised in Northern Ireland, and by two other couples who wished to challenge the failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legalise same-sex marriages. The judge ruled that the couples are not being unlawfully discriminated against by the state only recognising civil partnerships. Humanists UK and its section Northern Ireland Humanists, which have long campaigned for legal same-sex marriages, have expressed disappointment at the decisions.

This summer, model and public speaker Laura Lacole and Leeds United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Eunan O’Kane have been taking a case to gain legal recognition for humanist marriages in Northern Ireland. Humanists UK has been supporting them in bringing their claim, and the couple have been working with the same legal team as who took one of the same-sex marriage cases. The couple won the case at the High Court in June, but the Government has appealed. It will be heard again at the Court of Appeal on 11 September.

Northern Ireland Humanists coordinator Boyd Sleator commented, ‘We’re sad to see today’s judgments. The result is that Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK where legally married same-sex couples are denied recognition of their union by the state, and the only part of the UK where loving and committed same-sex couples cannot get married. Northern Ireland's ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples brings shame on us all. We hope the judgments are appealed, and that one day soon, our lawmakers will accept that love is love, and will at last bring the law in line with public opinion, which overwhelmingly favours marriage equality.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 0781 55 89 636, or Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator on or on 07470 395090.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns around marriage laws:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Northern Ireland Humanists is a part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland.