Northern Ireland Assembly set for FIFTH showdown over same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Northern Ireland assembly is set to debate a same-sex marriage motion for a fifth time – after equality was blocked four times in a row.

Same-sex marriage is law in England, Wales and Scotland and the Republic of Ireland – but in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party has blocked it repeatedly by filing a ‘petition of concern’ in the Stormont assembly.

The issue has been vetoed four times since 2012, but amid political issues in the country, politicians are trying yet again to pass a motion on the issue.

MLAs from a number of parties – the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Green Party – have put forward a motion calling for equal marriage legislation, which is expected to be debated on Tuesday 2 November.

It is the first such vote since the people of the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of equal marriage in May this year.

Despite fears that a strong turnout among older, religious voters could sway the referendum against equality, the Republic approved equality by a landslide of 62.1% to 37.9%.

Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane said: “Great progress has been made in the campaign for marriage equality in the south of Ireland and in Britain but sadly not in the North.

“Equality threatens no one and there is a need for all parties to stand up for the rights of everyone in the community regardless of creed, colour, or sexual orientation and support the introduction of marriage equality.

“Sinn Féin has been to the fore in supporting marriage equality across Ireland and in Europe and voted for marriage equality each time it has come before the Assembly.

“We hope that all MLAs can support this motion, particularly those from parties who claim to support equal marriage.

“Marriage equality is a civil rights issue and it is long past the time that it was extended to citizens across Ireland.”