New culture war’: Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community fights for gay marriage

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03/27/2019

Hidden away up several flights of stairs in the centre of Belfast, Northern Ireland, teenagers, many of them with shocks of red, blue and rainbow hair, relaxed and joked with one another. At the LGBT+ youth group, run by charity Cara-Friend, they felt themselves to be among friends, free to be themselves. But outside, the young people said they don’t always feel welcome in a place where many politicians make homophobic comments and same-sex marriage is still banned, despite being legalised in the rest of the United Kingdom in 2013. “Gay marriage isn’t even a thing here,” said Ash, a 16-year-old who identifies as non-binary and pansexual. “It makes me feel sub-human, like we’re not really as important as other people.” Northern Ireland is governed separately from the rest of the United Kingdom on many issues, a legacy of the domestic conflict between “republican” and “unionist” groups over whether to unite with the Republic of Ireland to the south.

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