Northern Ireland Election 2016

NI Assembly election: Same sex marriage appeal to candidates

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Media captionCampaigners for same sex marriage have called on candidates in the Assembly election to back them and introduce legislation

Campaigners for same sex marriage have called on candidates in the Assembly election to back them and introduce legislation.

The campaign called Love Equality is supported by lesbian and gay organisations, trades unions, student activists and Amnesty International.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is not legal.

Last year, a majority of Assembly members voted in favour of same-sex marriage for the first time.

Fifty-three MLAs supported the motion brought by the SDLP and Sinn Féin, while 52 voted against.

However, the motion has been blocked after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deployed a petition of concern that required the proposal to achieve a cross-community majority.

Image caption John O'Doherty, one of the leaders of Love Equality, said they will lobby Assembly candidates in the weeks ahead

John O'Doherty, from the Rainbow project and one of the leaders of Love Equality, said: "Ever since the Yes vote in the Republic of Ireland, marriage equality has become a big political issue for many voters - straight and gay - in Northern Ireland."

Sally Bridge and Catherine Couvert live in Belfast and would like to be married.

'Opportunity'

They are in a civil partnership but want the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Sally Bridge told the BBC: "I really want to get married to have the opportunity to get married. I can't say to people I am married. I have to say I am civilised - it is just very strange."

Image caption David Smyth of the Evangelical Alliance said there was a common good in holding to the definition of marriage between a man and a woman

However, opponents of a law change said campaigners are wrong.

David Smyth of the Evangelical Alliance told the BBC: "We believe there is a common good in holding to this definition of marriage between a man and a woman that flourishes the community for everyone."

Campaigners from Love Equality said they will lobby Assembly candidates in the weeks ahead.

They want voters to e-mail candidates and ask them how they will vote in a future debate on marriage equality at Stormont.

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