Yesterday, Northern Ireland’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage and abortion were lifted. The push for altering the old law came from officials in Westminster, who gave Northern Ireland up until the 21st of October to re-establish their assembly at Stormont, otherwise the law would be altered straight from London.
Yesterday’s meeting in Stormont failed to avert the modifications to the law that resulted in the legalization of same-gender marriage as well as the decriminalization of abortion.
Many supporters and objectors to the shift congregated at the parliament building in Stormont as the clock drew nearer to midnight and the adjustment of the law.
One of the supporters, Alisha Rooney, said, “I am thrilled that finally my friends and colleagues can marry without it being a crime in this country. I am thrilled that women now have the choice with what they can do with their own bodies.”
Another supporter of the new regulations, Jamie Kennedy, said, “We tend to have a bad reputation for being ‘stuck in the dark ages’ when it comes to equality and rights but we’ve now shown we value our LGBTQ community as equals and we value the choices that (sometimes in dreadful situations) pregnant people have to make regarding their reproductive health. I’ve never felt prouder to say I’m Northern Irish.”
A bar in Belfast called Maverick served as a space for many locals to celebrate the updated law. Strangers were conversing with one another, embracing each other, and singing and dancing with each other as midnight approached.
Arlene Foster, the Party Leader for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Union, was not so thrilled over the changes.
“It is a very sad day,” said Foster. “I know some people will seek to celebrate and I would say to those people, think of us who are sad today and who believe this is an affront to human dignity.”
In 1967, the Abortion Act was established in the United Kingdom, however, it wasn’t accepted in Northern Ireland. The region was still operating under a law from 1861, which formed some of the strictest abortion regulations on the planet. Someone performing an abortion would have earned themselves a life sentence, regardless of whether or not the reasons for the procedure involved rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormality. The new law now puts Northern Ireland on par with the rest of the U.K.