About 3,000 people are expected to march in Belfast today calling for the introduction of gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
The province is the now the only part of the British Isles where civil marriage has not been redefined to include gay couples, with a series of votes on the issue being defeated in the Northern Irish Assembly.
However, following Irish Republic’s referendum vote to introduce the practice, there is renewed pressure on the North to toe the line.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the marchers will walk from Ulster University to City Hall, where there will be a series of speeches. The campaign has also been endorsed by a number of local celebrities, including Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes who said: “Although I can’t be there in person at the march and rally, I want to voice my complete support for civil marriage equality.
“I’m hoping to be married myself and I believe that everyone should be able to marry the person they love; it’s as simple as that.”
The singer Brian Kennedy also sent a message of support, saying: “I don’t want to be ‘tolerated’ by anybody and the only place I should seek permission to be married is from the heart of my beloved.”
The rally is being partly organised by Amnesty International, who are also pushing for the legalisation of abortion in both the North and Republic of Ireland.