Tory Vice Chair: I feel let down that the NI Secretary avoided raising the question of equal marriage

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The Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party has said he is “disappointed” that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has not discussed the matter of equal marriage with her colleagues in Northern Ireland.

Michael Fabricant raised the question with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers last week, on whether she has discussed the issue of the lack of equal marriage with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, First Minister of Northern Ireland or Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

He also tabled a new question of whether Ms Villiers will “now raise the matter of equal marriage with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister and encourage and urge them to introduce same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland.”

Mrs Villiers simply responded to say: “The constitutional arrangements in place mean that extending equal marriage to Northern Ireland is a decision for the Northern Ireland institutions to take.”

Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Fabricant said: “Of course, Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is technically correct.  While I understand the charged religious views often held in the Province, I am disappointed that Theresa has chosen to avoid the issue completely and not even discuss the matter with her colleagues in Stormont. She knows that David Cameron is a keen advocate for marriage and equality.”

It is worth noting that Theresa Villiers has voted strongly in support of equality for gay and lesbian people historically.

Last month, the NI Equality Commission criticised repeated attempts to block votes on equal marriage in the NI Assembly.

A joint same-sex marriage proposal by Sinn Fein and the Green Party was defeated in October 2012, along nationalist and unionist lines.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) again blocked progress on equal marriage through another petition of concern in April this year.