The March for Civil Marriage Equality also marked the beginning of Love Equality. Following the success of the YES Equality Campaign in the Irish referendum – The Rainbow Project, ICTU and Amnesty International came together to build a consortium campaign in the North – which could learn the lessons from the South.
All three organisations were independently involved in the campaign for marriage equality but this was the first time they had come together. They decided to organise the Rally for Civil Marriage Equality. On a summery day in June the crowds gathered in the heart of Belfast for what turned out to be one of the largest rallies held in recent times at City Hall.
20,000 people to took to the streets of Belfast to call for marriage equality.
Belfast author Glenn Patterson, who chaired the rally, said:
“The phrase that has been running round my head since the Irish referendum is ‘we will not forsake the blue skies of Ulster for the redorangeyellowgreenblueindogoviolet skies of the Irish Republic… We’ll bring them here!’
“Those rainbow colours, of course, are the colours of Great Britain’s skies as well. Almost all of Europe has shown it supports marriage equality. This Saturday we have the opportunity to say – to our politicians, to anyone with an ear to hear – WE DO too. We do, you know. We do.”
Actress-singer Bronagh Gallagher, who performed at the Belfast marriage equality rally said:
“I was a big supporter of the Yes campaign in the Republic and now I want to see that joy spread to Northern Ireland.
“For me, this is dead simple. I think everyone is equal and the law should treat them as equal. No more and no less than that. The right to be treated equally by your government – including by being able to get married – is a matter of fundamental human rights.
“Gay people in Northern Ireland are not second class citizens and should not be treated as such by their government. Everyone should have the right to have their love recognised as equal before the law.
“I can’t wait to perform at the rally. I am working in London at the minute, but I’m flying into Belfast especially to sing for equality. It’s even better knowing that I will be performing with QUIRE, Belfast’s brilliant LGBT choir. I could hardly have a more appropriate backing group for the occasion!
“If the atmosphere in Belfast is anything like it was in Dublin during the Yes campaign, then Saturday is going to be electric. My message to the politicians is: join us!”
You can watch some of the speeches here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeFCl5ZazSA