Majority of MLAs in Northern Ireland support motion for LGBT equality strategy

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Northern Ireland yesterday adopted a motion which calls for a sexual orientation strategy to be introduced.

A majority of MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to support the motion which calls on the Office of First and Deputy First MInister (OFMDFM), to fulfil a commitment it made in 2006 to produce a strategy to ensure equality for LGBT people in Northern Ireland.

Some criticised the delay of the OFMDFM in moving forward on the strategy, and many said it was overdue.

Anna Lo of the Alliance Party, which is backing the motion, said on  “equality issues, we so often fall short”. She criticised the delay.

Continuing, Ms Lo said the motion was necessary to “increase our understanding of the issues affecting some of the most vulnerable in our society… There is no apparent policy reason for the delay, which suggests it’s a political reason.”

The chairman of the OFMDFM committee said the strategy would “ensure the rights of LGBT people are supported and enabled”, and said he was shocked that “seven years on, we can’t sign off on something so practical and sensible”.

The seven-year delay was also criticised by Sinn Féin’s Megan Fearon, who said it was “nothing short of ridiculous”. Making a link with late human rights fighter Nelson Mandela, she quoted him to say: “There’s no such thing as part freedom.”

Jimmy Spratt, speaking on behalf of the DUP, said the delay may have been necessary to ensure that the strategy is effective.

Many other MLAs spoke out to commend the passage of the motion.