• Same-sex weddings will kick off next year in Northern Ireland. (AFP)Source: AFP
“We now look forward to the sound of Valentine’s Day wedding bells."
Samuel Leighton-Dore

11 Sep 2019 - 3:22 PM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2019 - 3:22 PM

Valentine's Day will have a whole new meaning for members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Northern Ireland next year, with news that the region's first same-sex weddings will kick off on February 14.

While same-sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland back in 2014, followed by Ireland in 2015, it remained illegal in Northern Ireland until July this year, when the House of Commons passed an amendment extending Ireland's same-sex marriage laws to Northern Ireland by October 21.

However, it was announced this week that government ministers would require time to implement the new law, pushing the date of same-sex marriage legalisation in Northern Ireland to January 13. With engaged couples legally required to give a 28-day notice of intention to marry, the first weddings will take place on Valentine's Day.

Speaking in the House of Lords last night, Northern Ireland Office Minister Lord Duncan of Springbank said: "Get ready for Valentine’s Day, because that is when they can do it. I can think of no better time than Valentine’s Day."

Speaking to Pink News, Springbank added:“What we have to ensure is that wherever the law mentions ‘husband and wife’ and ‘man and woman’ it has to be corrected to reflect the change.

“We want to make sure that on that date in January, we don’t miss anything. So we’re working assiduously to ensure that absolute legal certainty is granted, exactly as you would be if you were marrying as a heterosexual couple.”

According to The Irish News, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International said that campaigners were busy "working closely with government ministers and officials to ensure that the legislative obligations are met, in time and in full, so that couples here can start to enjoy the same rights as elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.

“We now look forward to the sound of Valentine’s Day wedding bells," he said.

“We thank everyone who has worked with us and supported this campaign - especially Conor McGinn MP and Lord Robert Hayward for their steadfast commitment to the cause of equality.”

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