A Labour MP has spoken out about the frustration of his same-sex marriage not being recognised in Northern Ireland, his husband’s birthplace.
Ged Killen, who is campaigning for a change in the law, told Sky News LGBT people in the country were “deeply frustrated” at being “left in limbo”.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Mr Killen got married to his partner in Massachusetts five years ago – forced to travel to the US because same-sex marriage ceremonies had not yet begun in Britain.
He often visits his husband’s family in Northern Ireland, but said that “whenever we go there, it’s 20 minutes on the plane but you’re going back years in terms of recognition of marriage and LGBT rights”.
“As it stands right now, we’re not married in Northern Ireland.
“If we were to go there and retire there, and one of us was to die, (the other) would be recorded as the surviving civil partner.
“You’re still in the UK, but they would wipe out your marriage completely for the rest of eternity.”
Mr Killen revealed one of his main motivations for campaigning to change the law is the Conservatives’ power-sharing deal with the DUP in Westminster.
“There is no-one in the chamber of the House of Commons to speak up in favour of their rights from a Northern Ireland constituency,” he said.
“People might say ‘well why are you talking about this?’
“Advancements in LGBT equality have happened when there’s been solidarity among LGBT people – no matter where they live or where they’re from.”
The newly-elected Scottish MP is co-sponsoring a Private Member’s Bill in the UK Parliament led by Northern Irish MP Conor McGinn.
It would see same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland and is due to be debated by MPs on 11 May.
Mr Killen says action must be taken because LGBT people have been left “in limbo” by the collapse of the power-sharing government Stormont.
He cautioned that “it’ll be difficult for the community to forget if the Assembly doesn’t legislate for equal marriage”.
But he predicts that things will change.
“There’s a church on my street that about a year-and-a-half ago voted to have same-sex weddings in their church,” he said.
“That would have been unthinkable when this was all being discussed originally. And we had the nay-sayers and people telling us that the world was going to end.
“None of that has happened and the world has moved on and it’s become almost normal. The same thing will happen in Northern Ireland, I’m sure of it.”
Mr Killen recalled a “nice moment” that summed up the momentum for a change in the law.
In a gay club in Belfast, a man “came up to me and he asked if he could give me a hug because he had seen me speaking on LGBT rights in the chamber”, he said.
“Now I was really surprised because I was newly-elected and I’m trying to put all my efforts into getting recognised more in my constituency, and here I was getting recognised in Belfast.
“But I think that just goes to show the strength of feeling there is for change in the LGBT community in Northern Ireland.”