Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, have made history by becoming the first same-sex couple to have a marriage ceremony in Northern Ireland. In celebration, Abi documents this landmark occasion whilst reflecting on the history of the country’s relationship with sexuality.
When same-sex marriage was legalised in the rest of the UK in 2014, the government felt this could not be applied in Northern Ireland due to the country’s strong religious views. This left the power of the decision with the Electoral Office, who, independent of the government, administer elections for Northern Ireland. After years of campaigning by activists for this to change, Members of Parliament stepped in, and finally extended the legalisation of same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland last month. With marriage laws requiring a 28-day waiting period after a couple applies for a licence, the first same-sex wedding could not take place until the week of Valentine’s Day.
“A landmark occasion and a celebration for same-sex couples everywhere”
On Tuesday 11th February, Peoples and Edwards wed at a hotel in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, with both brides wearing floor-length, white gowns. Originally booked as a civil partnership ceremony in order to mark their sixth year anniversary, the couple changed this to a civil marriage when the law changed, unintentionally turning their wedding into a landmark occasion and a celebration for same-sex couples everywhere.
“make a monumental advance in the plight of equality and gay rights”
Peoples and Edwards themselves reached out to thank everyone who was instrumental in making their wedding possible, feeling humbled and grateful. A reception organised by Amnesty International and the Love Equality campaign also took place at the same time in Westminster. Here, campaigners thanked MPs who had stepped in on the issue, helping to make a monumental advance in the plight of equality and gay rights.