- 28 Jan 19
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Republic of Ireland maintaining a ban on marriage for same-sex couples due to opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party
A Conservative peer has launched a fresh attempt to legislate for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. Lord Robert Hayward, who introduced a Private Member’s Bill on the issue last year in collaboration with Labour MP Conor McGinn, has tabled an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill which would attempt to bring equal marriage to Northern Ireland. The amendment will be debated in the House of Lords this Friday.
Hayward said: “This amendment respects the role of Stormont, but also recognises the reality that those devolved institutions are not currently functioning. Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should not be asked to wait indefinitely for equality with the rest of the UK. It is time for Westminster to put right that wrong.”
More than half of the 90 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have voiced support for marriage equality legislation but are unable to legislate since the power sharing government collapsed in January 2017.
Sinn Fein and the DUP have failed to resolve matters such as legislating for marriage equality and an Irish Language Act – Sinn Fein’s objective in last year’s negotiations between the parties was to secure a pathway to marriage equality. Sinn Fein do not recognise the sovereignty of the UK Parliament over Northern Ireland but leader Mary Lou McDonald has signalled they would not stand in the way of proposals to legislate for equal marriage under direct rule from Westminster.
In November 2015, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to support marriage equality but it was blocked by the DUP using the mechanism “petition of concern”. Last year, a Sky News poll showed 76% of people in the North believe marriage between same-sex couples should be legal.