SAME-SEX marriage has been legally recognised in Northern Ireland.
As of Monday, January 13, same-sex couples will be able to register to marry.
The change means couple will now be able to give notice of their intent to form a civil same-sex marriage or opposite-sex civil partnership to the General Register Office.
The first legally-recognised same-sex marriage ceremonies could take place as early as February 10 under the minimum 28-day notice period.
Any couples already married will also now be legally recognised in Northern Ireland.
Despite the change, couples in civil partnerships will not yet be able to convert their unions to a marriage.
That remains subject to change with the Northern Ireland Office set to consult on the issue later this year.
They will also be discussing the potential role of churches in any future same-sex marriages.
The change follows the backing of legislation put forward by Labour MP Conor McGinn which required the UK government to change abortion and same-sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland, unless devolution was restored by October 21, 2019.
An amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act by Mr McGinn requiring the government to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International welcomed the landmark change.
“For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens. So, today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal,” he said.
“Today, and the weddings which will follow next month, mark the culmination of years of campaigning and we thank our colleagues in the Love Equality coalition and every supporter who helped make this day a reality.
“That includes a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members who supported the campaign, our champions at Westminster such as Conor McGinn MP and Lord Robert Hayward, and the huge majorities in both Houses who voted for the law change.”
“We also want to thank Ministers in the NIO, particularly the Secretary of State Julian Smith, Lord Ian Duncan, and their officials, who have worked with us to give effect to the law within a tight timetable,” he added.
“In the absence of devolved government, we took our campaign to Westminster and won equal rights there. Now with devolution restored, the new Executive at Stormont must prove that is ready and willing to provide a rights-respecting government for all who live here.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr McGinn described it as a “good day for Northern Ireland”.
“Everyone who values equality, love and respect can celebrate today,” the Labour MP said.
"It's a good day for Northern Ireland, an important day for citizens' rights across these islands and an exciting day for same-sex couples who can now register to marry.”