NORTHERN IRELAND: Court Upholds Marriage Ban

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

A high court judge in Belfast has ruled the ban on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is lawful. Mr Justice O’Hara ruled on two separate cases that were heard together due to the similarities of the arguments.

Both cases were rejected by the Judge, insisting the ban did not violate the rights of LGBT couples in the region. The Judge also ruled it is lawful to continue to downgrade same-sex marriages to civil partnerships when couples move to Northern Ireland.

The couple’s solicitor Ciaran Moynagh said: “Of course, we are disappointed by today’s ruling. What it shows is that more work needs to be done to explain a truth that, to us, is self-evident; the love two men or two women share is never a threat to society – in fact the world could do with a little more love today.

“Today we are calling on the mums, dads, siblings and friends of LGBT+ people to no longer remain on the side lines. Speak, write or tweet to our political leaders reminding them that the majority of people in Northern Ireland support same sex marriage.”

  • Tawreos

    Sounds like there is judge that needs to take his head out of his ass and see the world for what it is.

  • another_steve

    Behind the scenes (and explaining the theofascist right’s silence re pussy-grabbing and support of Nazis), Trump is busy appointing theofascists to the federal bench here in the states.

    All it takes is one theofascist judge – as in Northern Ireland.

  • bkmn


  • Ross

    Both cases were rejected by the Judge, insisting the ban did not violate the rights of LGBT couples in the region.




    • Steverino

      A lame attempt at a “separate but equal” redux, but this time in Northern Ireland.

      • PRW

        Where that’s always worked so well before …

    • Ninja0980

      How could treating same sex couples as inferior not violate their rights?

    • ChrisMorley

      Quelle Surprise, he’s a catholic. He attended the Christian Brothers school, St Mary’s, in Belfast.

      He claims he can’t ‘change the law’ on marriage, only interpret it.

      Judge who dismissed same-sex marriages challenges says courts cannot change law

      He’s taken an inordinate amount of time to realise this, he heard the cases in December 2015, and told the plaintiffs they could expect his rulings “after Christmas”. He didn’t say after two Christmases and half a summer.

  • MikeinATL

    Queue the U.S. bigots who will be studying the arguments made in this case and bring them stateside…

    • Dazzer

      They’ll be mightily disappointed if they do.

      The judge had a lot of pro-LGBT things to say.

  • Jonathan Smith

    I’m wondering how often the names of Jebus and god acted in this ruling, and how soon the first brick hits this dipshits head……

  • barrixines

    You can’t tweet NI political leaders as the internet hasn’t been invented there. Nor electricity. Best you can do is pin a note on the church door or tattoo your dragon.

  • Stogiebear

    Time for the good folks of Northern Ireland to find out who Mr. Justice O’Hara has cheated with in violation of his sacrosanct pussy/pecker marriage and make sure everyone knows about it.

  • Ross

    Justice O’Hara:

    I got mine!

    You queers? Fuck off!

    • I believe you mean “Sod off!”
      Gotta keep the bigotry local, dontcha know?

      • Benjamin Ruth

        It’s Ireland. The appropriate phrase is “Fekk off!”

    • Dazzer

      Nope. Have to disagree with you.

      O’Hara has done the exact opposite. In his ruling, the judge made it clear that his sympathies were with the LGBT plaintiffs. The way he’s made his judgment is that it can be appealed – and can be appealed all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, where it can be overturned and grant same-sex marriage rights to everyone who is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

      This ruling is bigger and more complex than it initially seems.

      • Ross

        I would be delighted to be proved wrong!

      • Robert Pierce

        As you are aware, the ECHR doesn’t get involved in the marriage laws of countries that are signatories, be they EU or non EU countries of course. It’s an argument I get into with many gay Brexiters who seem to think it’s in the remit of the EU to intervene let alone blaming it whereas it’s the ECHR where this would be addressed and is an entirely independent body. Since the rest of the UK allows same-sex marriage, it might put a different slant on it but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The ECHR has repeatedly declared that it will not interfere in the marriage laws of any country in Europe. It makes one wonder if devolved government is a good thing in situations such as this.

        • Chris Gardner

          We here at the ECHR work to ensure that all of our EU citizens are treated equally and fairly.

          Except for the fags, of course. /s

        • ChrisMorley

          Fact: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on several “Right to Marry” cases and others are pending: see pages 21-22 of their Sexual Orientation cases factsheet.
          The court is reluctant to set an international marriage equality precedent that would be binding on all European signatories (which includes Russia), and until equal marriage is the law in the majority of European countries, that reluctance to lead on marriage equality is unlikely to change.

          However, these Northern Ireland appellants can take their cases first to the Belfast Appeal Court, which I don’t expect to be supportive, then from there to the UK Supreme Court in London. They can argue that the UK is now a hotbed of LGBTQ marriage inequality, with Northern Ireland being the exception, when marriage equality is the law in England, Wales, and Scotland.
          They can cite the UK Human Rights Act which applies in Northern Ireland, which incorporates the European Human Rights Convention rights into UK law. These include Article 12 (right to marriage), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).
          I don’t think the NI Appeal Court in Belfast will stick its neck out for marriage equality, but I do think the UK Supreme Court will be firmly on our side.
          Brenda Hale was appointed the UK Supreme Court’s first female President and takes that office from October. She’s a hot champion of human rights.

          If that fails they can then try the ECHR in Strasbourg. The ECHR could take this opportunity to spread marriage equality to Northern Ireland based on UK Human Rights law, without setting a Europe-wide precedent.

          I’d much prefer it if the ECHR were bold and set an binding international European precedent, but it’s not an innovative court. The UK Supreme Court will end this UK domestic injustice.

          • Jim Maloney

            Great explanation. Thanks.

      • PRW

        Are ECHR rulings going to be worth a hill of beans in the UK two years from now?

  • Michael R
  • skyweaver

    Anyone “insisting” that people not invited to the table to eat are not being treated differently have already lost the argument. A child sees through the inequity of that.

    • Max_1
      • The_Wretched

        I’ve been using this clip for a while now. Turns out creationists have a talking point that monkeys don’t understand what it means to be treated unfairly.

    • gary47290

      Unfairness is not the issue. The law is. In the U.K., parliament is supreme and the constitution is what parliament says in law.

      The concept of judicial review does not exist in the U.K. so courts cant decalre a law uunconstitutional.

      Separate but “equal” is an oxymoron but the U.k. courts have no power to fix it.

  • Jefe5084

    Part of the Theocracy movement. Now Gorsuch. Sad.

  • Karl Dubhe

    After Brexit tanks the UK economy, NI will join up with Ireland.

    The last bit of the Empire will soon die; hopefully.

    • Robert Pierce

      Reunification would require a public vote in Northern Ireland which the Westminster government has never opposed no matter which party is in power.

  • John Ruff

    Catholic fascists

  • Tiger Quinn

    And now I will get to sit back and watch a whole bunch of Yanks opine about my home country.

    • clay

      As if that doesn’t happen, already?

    • Ross

      And now you will get to sit back and watch a whole bunch of people opine about discrimination.

    • Schlukitz

      Ah, but it’s ok for the Irish to opine about whether gays should have the right to march in the St. Patrick’s day parade in the USA?

    • Ernest Endevor

      Am I right in thinking that a couple could go across the border, or to the UK, get married, return home, and that marriage would be recognized as being legal?

      • clay

        no, as the article states, and as with the anonymous couple in the second case, it’s downgraded to domestic partnership.

        • Ernest Endevor

          Thanks. I see that I mis-read it.

  • TrueWords

    The DUP insists it is not homophobic and is only defending the “traditional” definition of marriage

  • Dreaming Vertebrate

    So, … the judge is a proponent of the slippery slope to toasters theory.
    If we allow gay marriage, people will demand the right to marry their toasters, screw drivers or even farm animals: cows, horses, sheep. It’s a slippery slope to “udder” chaos.

  • scream4ever

    Will this be appealed?

    • James

      It will probably go to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, then the UK Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, the couples could apply to the European Court of Human Rights. The ECtHR aren’t going to find a right to same-sex marriage because numerous countries (Russia, Turkey, etc.) would either ignore the ruling or pull out of the court altogether in protest. But it’s possible that they could rule that there is a problem with the specific details of the law in the UK (e.g. that English same-sex marriages are effectively downgraded to civil partnerships in Northern Ireland).

  • netxtown

    “lawful to continue to downgrade

    you mean like… less than??? … not equal to ??? … not as good as???

    fuck you.

    • Rocco

      But it makes it very clear…and calls it what it is. If you listen to what the other side says, it is exactly what they mean. If some in their camp deign to “give” us anything, it is this: “civil unions” that are essentially table scraps. I am always shocked, but impressed (in a twisted way) that they say it to your face: “you don’t deserve what we have…be happy with this.” Lol…they really believe they are better than we are. Lol…

    • vaiyt

      Yes, “civil unions” and “civil partnerships” are not equal to marriage. They follow the same logic of other “separate but equal” legislation that exists so your rights can be jeopardized separately from those of the privileged class.

  • Reality.Bites

    My opinion: The judge’s foolish opinion that there is no discrimination is nonsense, but also irrelevant.

    What ultimately matters, with an intransigent government, is whether there is a law the binds the government to not discriminate. There is in the United States and Canada, and that’s largely how the issue was settled. There is not in Australia and the Irish Republic, and political/public pressure is/was required.

    Don’t know in Northern Ireland. But this one judge didn’t change things and couldn’t. It’s got to go higher.

    • Robert Pierce

      Well, aside form same-sex marriage, there are I believe 32 states where it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in employment. The ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has been languishing for over 3 decades and still not passed into law. So it hasn’t worked that well in the U.S. as it has in Canada.

  • Robincho

    This just in from Belslow…

  • clay

    I know we’ve all got initial emotional reactions, but does anyone have the actual legal decision? The Telegraph doesn’t link or quote from it.

  • As primitive as it seems here in the US, it is shocking to hear about NI, AUS, and other countries jerking the public around.

    • It’s not so long ago that it was happening here in the States.

      • MBear

        Earlier today, for example…? LOL

  • Jacob

    The current state of NI is flirting with a reflaming of the Troubles for many reasons. If it happens it will be sad.

  • greenmanTN

    It’s going to

  • clay

    Joe had a thread about this in April ’16.

  • coram nobis

    So, if it “downgrades” marriages affirmed elsewhere in the UK, it suggests a contradiction that Parliament — this one or the next one — needs to rectify. A Labour government might see it that way.

  • The_Wretched

    Was there a legal explanation under Northern Ireland law?

    • James

      It’s kind of a long story…

      Pretty much every country in Europe is signed up to a treaty called the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees various rights and sets up an international court, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to decide allegations that those rights have been violated. The ECtHR has generally taken a measured approach to LGBT rights, probably in part because if they go too far some countries refuse to implement their rulings and the Court’s authority is weakened. For example they have found that there is no general right to same-sex marriage or adoption, but they have said that some form of recognition must be extended to same-sex couples and that if unmarried couples are allowed to adopt, same-sex couples must be allowed too.

      In the UK there is a law called the Human Rights Act which brings the rights from the ECHR into domestic law and empowers the domestic courts to enforce them (though only to an extent… it’s complicated). It says that they should “take into account” rulings from Strasbourg. My understanding is that the exact meaning of “take into account” here is hotly contested. The judge in this case says that Strasbourg have clearly said that there is no right to same-sex marriage, and that the “special circumstances” that would allow him to rule differently from them are not present in this case (this is from the summary, I don’t think the full ruling has been published yet).

      Aside from the Human Rights Act, I don’t know of any plausible argument that the courts should overturn the ban. In general judicial review is pretty weak in the UK – laws can generally only be “struck down” if they were improperly passed, or if they contradict some other law.

      • The_Wretched

        Thanks, I’m very undereducated on how the legal regime is there.

  • Dazzer

    I know this is contra-intuitive, but I really like this ruling.

    Mr Justice O’Hara is one hell of a smart cookie.

    Under current European Court of Human Rights law, no state can be compelled to institute equal marriage.

    Judge O’Hara has done two things:
    i) He’s kicked the topic back to the politicians – where it really ought to be dealt with;
    ii) in making his judgment and using ECHR rulings as a basis to do it, he’s given grounds and reasons for the European Court of Human Rights overturn him on appeal.

    My initial reading of the story was flat-out rage.

    But having read the ruling several times, I’m actually pretty happy.

    This is a judge who is looking to the long term.I’d hate to play poker or chess against him.

    • Reality.Bites

      Is there anything in his past rulings to indicate this is intelligence?

      It sounds a bit like saying Scalia was deliberately on our side giving outrageous rulings lower court judges loved to use in order to rule for us.

      • Dazzer

        I’ve only read his ruling on this.

        But O’Hara’s words are remarkably sympathetic to the LGBT community. He’s used a very specific and narrow piece of law to back up his ruling – but in doing so, he’s left that bit of law open to re-interpretation.

        Potentially, he’s set the groundwork for same-sex marriage to be made legal across all the countries in the Council of Europe.

        It doesn’t make sense when you first read the story, but – ultimately – this could be one of the best rulings on same-sex marriage anywhere in Europe.

        • Reality.Bites

          Thanks – I’ll take your word for it, not being qualified to interpret a document based on EU law.

        • Edmund Allin

          Bloody hell. If what you say comes to pass the Russians, Bulgarians, Turks etc will be furious. Oh, dear. :p

        • ChrisMorley

          First any appeal from this Belfast High Court decision has to go to the Belfast Appeal Court, then to the UK Supreme Court.

          I am very optimistic that when the new President of the UK Supreme Court, Brenda Hale, gets her teeth into this case, she will absolutely be on our side.
          I explain more above, linked here

    • clay

      Can you link the text?

    • kiprian

      In days gone past, it was the job of the media to explain the more subtle aspects of events, a job that is antithetical to sound bites and the 24hr news cycle. Thank you for filling in!
      And shame on those who refuse to admit that there might be more than the superficial involved.

    • ChrisMorley

      Sadly the Northern Ireland politicians are in suspended animation.
      There is now no legally required ‘power-sharing’ Executive, and because of that the Northern Ireland Assembly can’t meet, so it can’t even debate marriage equality, still less make it law. The Democratic Unionists are responsible for the infamous ‘Cash for Ash’ green energy scam. Sinn Fein quit the Power-Sharing Executive in response and the Executive and Assembly collapsed months ago.
      We have reverted to a form of Direct Rule by the Westminster ministers and parliament.
      Both the Irish and British governments are “trying” to revive the Executive and Assembly, but both are heavily preoccupied with the complexities of Brexit, and Theresa May’s minority government has handed over £1Billion to Northern Ireland’s ten Democratic Unionist MPs, to buy their votes at Westminster.

    • customartist

      I always said that LGBT rights will be won [primarily] in the courts, as opposed to in the legislatures

  • Ross

    Justice O’Hara: You, you, and you. You all can get married.

    Another person: But what about me?

    Justice O’Hara: No, you cannot get married.

    Another person: What???????? Why?

    Justice O’Hara: Because I said said so.

    Another person: But that is discrimination!

    Justice O’Hara: No, I am not violating your rights.

    Another person: But…you just said I can’t get married! HOW is that not violating my rights???????? Particularly after you let all those other people get married!

    Justice O’Hara: Because I said said so.

    • Xuuths

      Turns out even judges can be really really stupid. And bigoted. And wrong.

      • Gregory B

        Yup. Roy Moore. Nuff said.

  • Michael White

    Glad my trip to Ireland in October does not include the haters in the north

  • JWC

    keep chipping away

  • Jim Maloney

    Can they appeal? That’s not in the article.

  • rextrek

    well I guess Northern Island will continue to be Excluded in Irelands MAIN tourism Industry……..who wants to go where they are NOT wanted?

  • grada3784

    Remember Northern Ireland is still in the 1690’s. After all, they have finally finished the Battle of the Boyne, more or less.

  • JohnMyroro

    Which is more bigoted and backward — Northern Ireland or Australia? One is the boreal Alabama, the other the austral Texas.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    The UN declaration of human rights talks of a “right to family life . . . ”
    Just saying.

  • BLFJboy

    Fucking neanderthals.

  • JCF
  • gary47290

    Everyone in the comments is woefully ignorant of U.K. jurisprudence. In the U.K., parliament is supreme and the courts do not have the power of judicial review of statutes (as is the situation in the U.S. after Marbury v Madison), because the constitution is whatever parliament and tradition say is. Separate but equal is nonsense but not unconstitutional in the U.K.