Northern Ireland same-sex marriage bill has ‘little prospect’ of progress, says DUP Chief Whip who voted against gay marriage

The DUP’s Chief Whip has said that a cross-party attempt to introduce a Bill of same-sex marriage into the House of Lords and the House of Commons is a “symbolic gesture” with little hope of change.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said that there is “very little prospect” of the Bill getting through Parliament, and said the issue should only be passed through the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly, which is currently suspended.

“I think there is very little prospect of the bill getting through all of the stages in the parliamentary process, and it remains our view that this is a devolved matter and clearly should be dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly,” said Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP.

“It is more of a symbolic gesture.

“We are of the view it is a devolved matter and should remain a devolved matter,” he added to News Letter.

(Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Conservative Peer Lord Hayward will introduce a draft same-sex marriage Bill to the House of Lords today, while Labour MP Conor McGinn will “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill” in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

“We welcome this important intervention by Lord Hayward. Our preference has always been for the Northern Ireland Assembly to pass marriage equality legislation, in line with the overwhelming support which exists among the public here,” said Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality campaign.

“However, without functioning devolution for the last 15 months, we now look to Westminster to legislate.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has previously voted against the legalisation of same-sex marriage across England and Wales.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

He also voted against granting same-sex couples civil partnerships.

He was also absent from the vote to reduce the legal age of same-sex relations to 16, as well as the vote to allow same-sex couples to adopt.

The DUP as a party is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.

The NI Assembly has voted four times against same-sex marriage but on the fifth, in November 2015, a majority supported change by a vote of 53-52.

The motion was blocked from passing by the DUP, however, with the party employing a peace process power known as a ‘petition of concern’ to override the democratic vote.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has said that Westminster must act to secure equal marriage for Northern Ireland.

“It doesn’t sit easy with us at all, but sometimes you have to put the issues of people before your own views,” said the politician in an interview with PinkNews.

“We do believe that we don’t want to see carte blanche everything going through Westminster and imposed – but because we have the Intergovernmental Conference because the two governments have co-responsibility for equality and for rights, that allows us a way for this to be delivered.

“If it goes through we would be delighted because it’s something that shouldn’t be denied in this day and age.”