Abortion and same-sex marriage have been legalised in Northern Ireland. Finally, people in Northern Ireland will soon have fair access to the same basic freedoms that have been available to people in England, Scotland and Wales for years.
Same-sex weddings in Northern Ireland can take place as of February 2020, while the government has until the end of March to finalise the regulations that will allow for abortion services.
The legislation to allow both abortion and same-sex marriage was passed by MPs in Westminster in July, but comes in to force today.
The vote over equal marriage – tabled by the Labour MP Conor McGinn, who long campaigned on the issue – emerged overwhelmingly in favour of extending same-sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland, with 383 votes to 73.
The vote on abortion, proposed by Labour MP Stella Creasy, saw 332 votes in favour compared to 99 naysayers.
But despite the vote in Westminster, there was no guarantee until today that the laws would actually come in to force. That’s because currently, Northern Ireland is without a government – and has been for two years. A deadline was set for 21 October, meaning that if a government wasn’t formed in the region by then, Westminster’s vote would reign supreme. As no government was formed by yesterday’s deadline, the freedoms of abortion and equal marriage have now been legalised.