Two women from Belfast have become the first same-sex couple to get married in Northern Ireland since new legislation was introduced.
Sharni Edwards, 27, and Robyn Peoples, 26, tied the knot today, February 11, at a hotel in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, with their first dance reportedly set to Nathan Sykes and Ariana Grande’s Over And Over Again.
The newlyweds, who met in a gay bar in Belfast and have been together for six years, had been planning a civil partnership for the same date, but opted for a wedding after January 13’s legalisation of same-sex marriage across the country – the couple are now set to jet off to Cyprus for their honeymoon.
The recent legislation brings Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, where same-sex marriages have been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014. The six-year wait was due to the matter being devolved to Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly.
However, after Stormont’s collapse in 2017 over policy disagreements, LGBTQ+ campaigners turned to Westminster. Then, in 2019, Labour MP Conor McGinn made an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, outlining that the government had to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Ahead of the big day, Robyn earlier told BBC News: ‘We’re both nervous but very excited. We just can’t believe it’s happening next week. I just want to say thank you to everyone in Northern Ireland who has made this possible for us. Behind the scenes, everyone who’s marched, everyone who’s emailed, petitions, everything.’
Sharni also told Pink News:
It is so surreal for me. I still have to pinch myself. I just feel humbled and grateful. The younger generation need people to look up to, to see it’s OK for a woman to love a woman. We are so thankful for the Love Equality campaigners for fighting for us. If it wasn’t for their hard work and effort, we wouldn’t be in this position now. We would still be having a civil partnership next week.
Robyn added: ‘It wasn’t intentional but we are so grateful for it. It helps other people to see we are just like any other normal couple, except we are both girls. There is nothing different about us from the next couple you see in the street.’
Couples that are already married are now able to have their unions legally recognised, while the Northern Ireland Office is set to enter into a consultation later this year regarding the conversion of civil partnerships into marriages, which is currently not possible.