High Court and Court of Appeal judgments in 2017, beginning with Smyth, Re Judicial Review  NIQB 55, obliged the Northern Ireland Executive, on grounds of equality of treatment, to act to place belief marriage on the same legislative footing as religious marriage. Temporary arrangements are currently in place to give effect to those judgments, but full equality will require amendment of the current Marriage (NI) Order 2003, which recognises only civil and religious marriage. Under the existing temporary arrangements, belief marriage has become commonplace in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Department of Finance held a public consultation on marriage law from 15 November 2021 to 18 February 2022. Continue reading