Northern Ireland

Sir Ian McKellen calls for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

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Media captionSir Ian McKellen said it was "rather unseemly" that Northern Ireland had yet to legalise same gender marriage

Hollywood film star Sir Ian McKellen has said he hopes Northern Ireland will "catch up with the rest of the UK" and legalise same-sex marriage.

The British actor told the BBC he welcomed the Republic of Ireland's yes vote in a referendum last month.

However, he said it was "rather unseemly" that Northern Ireland had yet to bring in similar laws.

The Northern Ireland Assembly debated the introduction of same-sex marriage four times but it was always rejected.

Last month, more than 62% of the electorate in the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage.

During an interview on BBC Breakfast, Sir Ian McKellen, who is best known for playing the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit wizard Gandalf, was asked about the referendum result in Ireland.

Image caption There was joy in Dublin when the result of the same-sex marriage vote was revealed last month

The 76-year-old said: "Whenever the vote came through, that wasn't the big turning point.

"The turning point had been already happening and this was confirmation that Ireland had changed.

"That leads onto the future very well indeed.

"I hope, as a result, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, will catch up with the rest of us now and bring in same-gender marriage because it's rather unseemly that that little bit of, corner of our country, doesn't have quite as liberal laws as the rest."

The Republic of Ireland was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by a referendum.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 20 countries worldwide.

A mass rally in support of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was held in Belfast at the weekend.

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