Chris McNaghten and his partner Jon Swan were married at the weekend by a progressive priest from the Harbour Faith Community

UNTIL the beginning of 2020 same-sex marriage wasn’t allowed in God-fearing Northern Ireland, although gay marriage was legalised in the rest of the Britain in 2013. Matters progressed when the UK government, to the fury of conservative Christians such as Lord Maginnis, and mainstream churches, ‘forced’ marriage equality on the province, according to Christian Concern.

Image via Facebook

Then, in September regulations were changed to allow religious bodies to perform weddings if they so wished, and at the weekend history was made when well-known Northern Ireland strongman Chris McNaghten and his partner Jon Swan, above, were married in County Antrim.

McNaghten said:

We are so glad to be finally having our day together after a long wait and several attempts this year. It’s amazing to see Northern Ireland now in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland regards equality for the LGBTQ community.

My praise goes out to all those involved in this battle for equality over the years.

Despite neither having strong religious beliefs, McNaghten said:

However, our family minister is someone with whom we are close and trust, and some of our family take comfort from a religious ceremony. For most people, your wedding day is known as being the best day of your life. For us, it’s a dream come true that, growing up, we thought we would never have.

Last year McNaghten said in an interview that he sees himself as a trailblazer in his sport.

I’m the first openly gay strongman to come out in the UK and Ireland, possibly even Europe.

Image via Facebook

But he takes the view that being gay is just one facet of who he is.

I want to be Ireland’s strongest man. I don’t want to be Ireland’s strongest gay man.

Oh, and by the way, he:

Absolutely loves drag queens. They’re the mummies of the gay world. Drag is about putting on a performance and about performing for people. It’s the exact same way whenever I’m on stage competing.

Last Monday, the first N Ireland first same-sex couples with existing civil partnerships were able to convert to full marriage status in town halls across the province.

The first same-sex civil marriage wedding took place in the province in February when Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples married in Carrickfergus in Co Antrim.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, one of the leaders of the Love Equality campaign, said:

This has been a momentous week for equal marriage in Northern Ireland. With Chris and Jon’s wedding today, following the first civil partnership conversions on Monday, we now reach the end of the long campaign for marriage equality here.

For those couples who want a church wedding or another religious dimension to their wedding ceremony, the recent law change is hugely significant.

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