BRITISH actor Sir Ian McKellen hopes the North of Ireland will "catch up with the rest of the UK" and legalise same-sex marriage, he revealed this week.
The 76-year-old welcomed the Republic of Ireland's yes vote in last month's referendum, but claims it's "rather unseemly" that the North of Ireland has yet to bring in similar laws.
The Stormont Assembly has debated the introduction of same-sex marriage four times, but so far it has been rejected, despite numerous campaigns and demonstrations.
Welcoming the results of the referendum in the Republic, Sir Ian 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.”
He added: "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."
On visits to the North of Ireland in the past, Sir Ian has recalled his Northern Irish roots.
His great-great grandfather James McKellen was from Co. Antrim, whom the actor has described as a "strict, evangelical Protestant minister from Ballymena".