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History: This same-sex couple just became the first to marry in Northern Ireland

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Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples.

The first ever same-sex couple to marry in Northern Ireland have tied the knot in the last few hours.

Sharni Edwards, 27, and Robyn Peoples, 26 of Belfast wed this afternoon (11 February) at Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus.

Their wedding comes nearly six years after same-sex marriages became legal in England and Wales.

In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party repeatedly blocked marriage equality. But the UK Parliament overruled them this year and same-sex marriage officially became legal on 13 January 2020.

Usually couples would have to wait 28 days to wed. That means the first same-sex weddings wouldn’t happen until next week.

But Edwards and Peoples had already booked a civil partnership last year, before the law change. When they decided to make it a wedding instead, it allowed them to be the first down the aisle and into the history books.

‘Our love is just the same’

The couple have been together for six years, having met in a bar in Belfast. They got engaged in 2015 on a trip to Paris to see an Ariana Grande concert.

And they spoke to the media minutes after their wedding.

Peoples said: ‘This means everything to us, to be married, to finally have the opportunity to say “here’s my wife”.

‘We are equal to a man and a woman. Our love is just the same.’

Meanwhile Edwards added: ‘We didn’t expect to be the first, it’s coincidental. We would have gone ahead with a civil partnership, but when the deal was passed, it was perfect timing and a happy coincidence.

‘We just want to say thank you to everyone who’s fought for this, who has marched and helped us get to this stage.’

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples kiss in front of an image of Lyra McKee.
Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples kiss in front of an image of Lyra McKee. Twitter

Ahead of the wedding, Edwards and Peoples posed for pictures in front of a mural in the city of Lyra McKee. She was the journalist and LGBT+ activist who was killed while observing rioting in Derry last year.

By coincidence, police today announced they had arrested four men in connection with her death.

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Author: Tris Reid-Smith