Northern Ireland: Councillor who opposes same-sex marriage joins rival party

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An ex-Alliance Party councillor in Northern Ireland has joined the Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) because he is opposed to Alliance’s support for same-sex marriage.

North Down Councillor Adam Harbinson quit the Alliance Party after it passed a motion calling for “equal civil marriage” in September.

Alliance criticised Mr Harbinson over his decision to keep his council seat despite resigning from the party.

Mr Harbinson said Alliance was “increasingly out of touch with the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland” and in a debate claimed that gay couples in Northern Ireland already had all of the legal entitlements of marriage through civil partnerships.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said he was “delighted” that Mr Harbinson had joined his party.

In October, the Stormont Assembly narrowly voted against supporting equal marriage after the DUP tabled a petition of concern – effectively scuppering the chances of equality supporters.

The motion, which split largely along nationalist and unionist lines, was rejected by 45 votes to 50.

Only half of Alliance Party assembly members turned up to vote.

Even if the motion had passed it would not have changed the law, but rather just stated the opinion of the assembly.