Marriage equality in NI ‘a matter of time’ says Gerry Adams

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Sinn Féin leader believes it is only a matter of time before there is marriage equality across the whole of Ireland.

However, Mr Adams stated that he did not think a national referendum – similar to the one recently held in the Republic of Ireland – would work in Northern Ireland.

Adams made the comments after taking part in the annual Pride Talks Back event in Belfast on Monday (27 July). He said: “I’m not so sure about a referendum, and certainly very few people tonight favoured a referendum.

“But we need to use all the tools, and what won the referendum in the south was ordinary people, mammies and daddies and grannies, uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters, saying I have a family member who is gay.

“Because we all know people who are gay in our own families and our own political parties and our own communities and work.

“It is when you personalise it like that, I mean I was heavily involved in that campaign, it was the most cheerful, hopeful, inoffensive campaign you could have ever have been involved in and the outcome was joyous,” he told U.TV.

Earlier this month, a poll found that the people of Northern Ireland are now overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage.

Despite the introduction of same-sex marriage in England, Scotland and Wales, the DUP government in Northern Ireland continues to block all legislation on the issue.

Representatives from the main political parties took part in the Pride Talks Back panel discussion – however, the DUP abstained.

The panel – made up of Adams, UUP MP Danny Kinahan, Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir and SDLP MLA Alex Attwood – met to discuss LGBT rights in the country and what can be done to increase the chances of marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

Kinahan said: “I think there are too many people who use religious arguments as their reasoning when they forget that there are different religions, there are people with no religion and they are all equal.

“They all must have their say and you are in government as a politician for all the different groups, and therefore our job is leadership, and if people start using religion for the reason to block something, when my own view that the basic Christian thing is to be nice to each other, look after each other, love each other – dignity – then you’ve got it all wrong.”

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said it is important that politicians “serve every section of our community”.

He added: “All those politicians who weren’t here tonight, that we have the job to bring them to the table, we have to bring them with us and teach them what our community is about, what our campaign is about and bring them on board.”

Following the Republic of Ireland’s referendum in May, Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK or Ireland where marriage is denied to same-sex couples.

MPs from a number of parties in Westminster signed a motion last month, calling on the government to take action to support same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.