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A local gay couple got married in Belfast in front of hundreds of well-wishers, despite law-makers at Stormont blocking the right of same-sex couples to wed in Northern Ireland.

Malachai O’Hara and Michael McCartan, who have been in a committed relationship for five years, want to get married for real, but as a gay couple in Northern Ireland, find themselves in the only part of the UK which bans same-sex marriage.

The couple agreed to take part in the Big Fat Gay Wedding, staged as part of Belfast’s Culture Night as a light-hearted protest against the ongoing block on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The wedding, with vows administered by Belfast author Glenn Patterson and love songs sung by a local choir, took place on the steps of Belfast’s Merchant Hotel before a crowd of hundreds of the couple’s family, friends and supporters. Malachai O’Hara said:

“Michael and I would dearly love to get married for real, just as our siblings are able to do.

“We are ready and waiting to be a married couple. We shouldn’t really have to ask the permission of 108 politicians at Stormont to do so.

“We know that most people in Northern Ireland want the law changed. Now we just need our politicians to stop getting in the way of us living our lives.”

Glenn Patterson, who officiated at the Culture Night event, said:

“I’m lucky enough to have been married for a long time to the person I love most in the world. I want everyone to have that chance.”

A recent survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that 68% of adults in Northern Ireland believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. An estimated 20,000 people marched through Belfast in June to demand a change in Northern Ireland law to allow same-sex civil marriage.