Credit: Unsplash

After a years-long campaign by pro-choice and LGBTQ+ activists, same-sex marriage and abortion will become legal in Northern Ireland.

Westminster MPs in July passed legislation to require the government to change laws on abortion and same-sex marriage in the region if the devolved assembly was not restored by midnight on October 21.

Unionist members of the Stormont Assembly attempted to stop the changes in the law by triggering a recall of the assembly.

However, politicians were told no business could take place without the election of a speaker with cross-community support, made impossible by the boycott of the sitting by Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

The DUP, a pro-life and anti-LGBTQ+ rights party, said the fight will go on to protect the “rights of the unborn”, with party leader Arlene Foster saying “This is not a day of celebration for the unborn.”

As of midnight, abortion has been decriminalised in the region, with MPs in Westminster assuming responsibility for introducing new regulations to provide citizens in Northern Ireland greater access to terminations. This is expected to take place by April next year.

Same-sex marriage will become legal in Northern Ireland in January next year, with the first couples getting married in the week of Valentine’s Day 2020.

Abortion was made legal in the rest of the United Kingdom in 1967, with same-sex marriage legal in England and Wales in 2013, and Scotland the following year.

In the Republic of Ireland, same-sex marriage and abortion was made legal following two constitutional referenda in 2015 and 2018 respectively.