UK government faces fresh demand for equal marriage deal in Northern Ireland as talks collapse
The UK government is facing fresh calls to secure equality for gay couples in Northern Ireland after power-sharing talks collapsed.
Talks for the restoration of a devolved power-sharing government in the region collapsed yesterday after the Democratic Unionist Party stormed out of talks with republican party Sinn Fein.
One of the issues of contention between the two parties is same-sex marriage, as the DUP has previously used peace process powers to block equal marriage bills.
Following the collapse of power-sharing talks this week, the DUP has called for the UK government to begin direct rule over the region. In response, LGBT advocates have encouraged the UK government to push ahead to secure some equal marriage rights.
Labour’s Ged Killen called on the Conservatives to extend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which governs equal marriage in England and Wales, to make sure that the unions are also recognised in Northern Ireland.
In a letter to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley, Mr Killen wrote: “I would like to welcome you to your new position and wish you well as you begin the important task of trying to resolve the political deadlock in Stormont and see the return of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive.
“Shortly before your appointment I raised the issue of the recognition of same sex marriages in Northern Ireland with your predecessor at Northern Ireland questions.
“In my question, I asked the Government whether it would consider amending the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to allow same sex marriages conducted in the rest of the UK to be recognised in Northern Ireland.
“Same sex marriages are a hard fought and hard won right for the LGBT community in the UK. However, under the current legislation this right is not recognised in Northern Ireland.
“Should a same sex couple married in the rest of the UK settle in Northern Ireland their right to say that they are a married couple will not be respected in the public records as any partnership between a same sex couple will only be recorded as a civil partnership by the Northern Ireland registrar.”
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