Thousands marched for same-sex marriage on June 13, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

Equal marriage has finally become legal in Northern Ireland, with same-sex couples able to register to marry for the first time from Monday, January 13.

Couples can now officially give notice of their intent to form the first same-sex civil weddings in February, and same-sex couples who are already married will have their marriage recognised in the region. Heterosexual couples will also be able to enter into civil partnerships.

The news that same-sex marriage and abortion would be legalised in came in October 2019, as time ran out to restore a devolved government and stop the bill. The first weddings will be able to take place on February 10.

The Love Equality Campaign for Marriage Equality said in a statement: “Today is the culmination of five years of campaigning for marriage equality and marks an enormous step forward for LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland.”

It added that there were still issues to be addressed before LGBT+ couple had all the same rights as non-LGBT+ ones, and said it would continue to work “to ensure civil partnership conversions, recognition of marriages from other jurisdictions and a process for faith-based marriages are addressed as soon as possible”.

The organization continued: “However we celebrate this remarkable achievement with the thousands of people who made their voices heard and demanded change in spite of the many barriers placed in their way.

“Our campaign for marriage equality will not end until everyone in Northern Ireland has the same right to marry the person they love.”

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International which also played a leading role in the campaign for legalising same-sex marriage in the region, said in a statement: “This is a historic day for equality and human rights in Northern Ireland.

“For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens. So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal.

“Today, and the weddings which will follow next month, mark the culmination of years of campaigning and we thank our colleagues in the Love Equality coalition and every supporter who helped make this day a reality.”

With the first marriages set to take place by Valentine’s Day, the UK’s leading personal lubricant company, KY Jelly, is giving away free lube to same-sex couples across the UK and Northern Ireland to help them celebrate the passing of equal marriage.

A spokesperson from KY Jelly said, “Everyone deserves to have the best sex of their life on their wedding night and KY Jelly is there to enhance pleasure, intimacy and fun!”

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