Northern Ireland Assembly rejects same-sex marriage

Alternative Image

Politicians in Stormont have voted against same-sex marriage for the fourth time.

The Northern Irish Assembly was discussing same-sex marriage today, after three failed attempts to enact the law.

Today’s motion on equal marriage, proposed by Sinn Féin, failed by two votes, with 47 in favour and 49 against.

However, same-sex marriage continues to be blocked by the DUP, who used a “petition of concern” to ensure that the legislation would not pass even if it won a majority.

DUP Assembly member Peter Weir said: “This is not a serious debate. Clearly this motion is an attack on the symbolism of marriage and the institution of marriage and an attempt to redefine marriage.

“My party believes, and I believe also, that marriage is between one man and one woman and once you redefine that you lose the essence of marriage itself.”

Colm Eastwood of the SDLP said: “We need to be seen to be embracing all members of our community.

“There is no reason why the north of Ireland should be the only place on these islands that doesn’t have marriage available to same-sex couples.”

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, said: “By their words and actions, too many of Northern Ireland’s politicians are making gay people second-class citizens in their own country.”

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without same-sex marriage – as weddings began in Scotland, England and Wales in 2014. Crown dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey both have same-sex marriage legislation in the works.

The Republic of Ireland is also set to vote on proposals for same-sex marriage on May 22.

The Democratic Unionist Party have notoriously refused to back LGBT equality. They also proposed a “conscience clause” that would exempt religious people from following equality laws.

The DUP’s Jim Wells resigned as Health Minister today after making anti-gay remarks.