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Following the enactment of same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland became the only part of western Europe without same-sex marriage.

On 1 October 2012, the first Northern Ireland Assembly motion regarding same-sex marriage was introduced by Sinn Féin and the Greens.

In November 2016 the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a Legislative Consent Motion to extend the operation of United Kingdom's Policing and Crime Act 2017, including its Alan Turing Law, to Northern Ireland.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland despite five attempts to introduce it in the Northern Ireland Assembly, with a majority supporting legalisation in 2015 but the Democratic Unionist Party exercising its veto powers by filing a petition of concern.

Around the time of the successful Irish same-sex marriage referendum in 2015, an Ipsos Mori poll carried out between 20 May and 8 June 2015 found that 68% of people in Northern Ireland supported same-sex marriage.

Secondly, Dudgeon alleged that he had suffered discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexuality and residence in accordance with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Despite having previously rejected similar earlier complaints as "manifestly inadmissible", the Commission declared the complaint to be admissible on 3 March 1978.

ILGA rates Northern Ireland as the worst place in the United Kingdom for LGBT people, with 74% equality of rights compared to 86% LGBT equality in the United Kingdom overall and 92% equality in Scotland.

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1982 and the age of consent was equalised for all forms of sexual activity in 2001.

The Act gives same-sex couples most, but not all, of the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage.

Civil partners are entitled to the same property rights as married opposite-sex couples, the same exemption as married couples on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits, and also the ability to get parental responsibility for a partner's children, as well as responsibility for reasonable maintenance of one's partner and their children, tenancy rights, full life insurance recognition, next of kin rights in hospitals, and others.

During the 1970s, Northern Ireland was under direct rule from Westminster, so the organisations tried to bypass the Northern Ireland parties which were hostile to their cause and petition the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland directly.

In 1978 the British Government published a draft Order in Council to decriminalise homosexual conduct in Northern Ireland between men over 21 years of age, in line with the 1967 reforms in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland's homosexuality laws have historically reflected the English position, given the history of English dominance over Ireland since the 12th century, culminating in official union under the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.