Fifth Stormont rejection of gay marriage

Fifth Stormont rejection of gay marriage
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt

DUP scuppers NI marriage equality move

Within a week of Ireland passing into law its Marriage Equality act Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly rejected, for the fifth time, legalizing same sex marriage – although a majority of assembly members voted in favour.

It was the first time a majority of Assembly members endorsed the motion jointly put by Sinn Féin and the SDLP calling on the Northern Executive “to table legislation to allow for same sex marriage”.

The vote was 53 in favour of changing the legislation with 52 opposed. UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who has publicly opposed equality, abstained.

While 41 nationalists backed the proposal, it was approved by only four unionists, meaning it could not pass despite its single vote majority.

The DUP ensured the motion could not pass by lodging its veto, a petition of concern, because it did not have a majority of both Unionists and Nationalists

Just four out of 55 unionists who voted supported the motion.

It was the fifth time in three years Stormont voted on same sex marriage. Last April a Sinn Féin motion was defeated by a simple majority of 49 votes to 47.

All four earlier votes on the issue have fallen on a simple majority basis.

Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK – indeed, the British Isles – where gay marriage is not legal.

Patrick Corrigan, of Amnesty International, said the majority vote showed that “slowly but surely, politicians are catching up with public opinion”. His organization said the “battle for equality in Northern Ireland will now move to the courts” as last June two couples won permission to challenge the ban by judicial review.


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