Northern Ireland: District Council passes motion supporting gay civil marriage

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The District Council in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, has passed a Sinn Fein motion in favour of “supporting the same rights and entitlements to civil marriages for all citizens of Fermanagh regardless of race, religion or sexuality.”

The motion passed, despite strong DUP opposition, with one councillor stating his religious objections to allowing all citizens to marry.

Councillor Bert Johnston said: “With all my being, I oppose this motion; it’s iniquitous,” and went on to say that marriage “was created in Genesis and it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

The motion passed this time, having been rejected before. In September, the same motion was rejected with nine unionist votes against Sinn Fein’s eight. Yesterday’s vote saw 12 votes for, 10 against and 1 abstention.

Before the vote, a pro-equal marriage demonstration took place outside the Town Hall, with Frankie Dean, a same-sex marriage advocate, handing a letter to each of the councillors urging them to carry the motion, as they arrived.

The letter read: “I wish to point out that equal marriage is about to become law in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Not supporting this can do nothing to encourage tourism and the local economy.”

“Religion has historically been inherently discriminatory towards different groups in society and it is for that reason that decisions made in council meetings should not be swayed by religious beliefs,” it continued.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Basil Johnston, expressed his reasons for voting against the motion. He said: “I will be holding my position as usual, I will be voting against it. If marriage is to be extended to gay people it will redefine marriage and I think that is unacceptable.”

Last week, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) again blocked progress on same-sex marriage legislation in the country, having effectively vetoed a motion to legalise it through a ‘petition of concern’. The motion failed with 53-42 votes against.

The proposed motion was being pushed by Sinn Fein following an overwhelming vote in favour of a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland.