Pride parade revellers call for 'equal marriage' legislation


Calls for an end to Northern Ireland's ban on same sex marriage found colourful voice on the streets of Belfast as thousands packed the city centre for the annual Pride parade.

Many of those taking part in the noisy carnival used the opportunity to demand a change to legislation.

Among the chants resonating along the snake of floats were: "What do we want? Equal Marriage. When do we want it? Now."

In a clear reference to Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster's opposition to lifting the prohibition, others sang: "Arlene, Arlene hear us clear - we want equal marriage here."

Spirits were high across the city centre as the sun bathed supporters and participants alike.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles that does not allow same sex couples to wed.

Political attempts to change marriage laws in the region have been defeated five times in the Stormont Assembly.

Although a slim majority of MLAs voted in favour of lifting the ban when it was debated for a fifth time last November, the proposal fell when the Democratic Unionists deployed a controversial voting mechanism to effectively veto it.

The DUP, which is the largest party in the powersharing Assembly, have argued that same sex couples already have the ability to enter into civil partnerships and insisted the appetite is not there for further change.

Mainstream churches in the region hold that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Advocates of a change point to a number of recent opinion polls that indicate a clear majority in Northern Ireland do not oppose same sex marriage.

Political parties campaigning for the ban to end, including Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance Party, took part in Saturday's Pride parade.