Monday, May 25, 2015

Guardian: Northern Ireland under pressure after Irish gay marriage referendum win

Belfast gay day parade, via
Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK without marriage equality. The Independent quoted Colum Eastwood, SDLP MLA for Foyle, who said Northern Irish politicians of “every hue” should consider the result of the referendum very carefully. “Soon the North will be the only area in these islands to enforce a ban against same sex couples expressing their love through marriage,” he said. “That cannot continue.”
     Gay marriage also has yet to come to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, where you'd think it would be a slam dunk. From The Guardian:
Politicians in Northern Ireland will face intense pressure from LGBT rights campaigners to “catch up” with the rest of western Europe after the Irish Republic overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage in a referendum.
     The Irish Congress of Trade Unions [ICTU] will join Amnesty International and gay rights group the Rainbow Project to hold a mass rally in support of equal marriage rights on 13 June, while a legal test case has also been lodged with Belfast’s courts.
After Friday's referendum approving gay marriage in Ireland is enacted into law, Northern Ireland will become the last Western European country barring marriage equality.
     Attempts to legislate to allow gay marriage have been vetoed by the Democratic Unionist party [DUP] and a majority of Ulster Unionists in the devolved Northern Ireland assembly at Stormont.
     An ICTU spokesman said the region needed to catch up with the rest of democratic Europe – and in particular every other part of the UK.
     Amnesty’s campaign director in Northern Ireland, Patrick Corrigan, has called for a mass turnout at the rally, which will start from Belfast’s Writers Square at 2.30pm. Corrigan said people in Northern Ireland should show they are “sick of living in a discriminatory backwater for gay people”.
     Last month, a Sinn Féin motion on marriage equality fell after 47 Stormont assembly members voted in support while 49 unionists voted against. Even if there had been a small majority in favour, the DUP would have exercised a special veto drawn up under devolution.
     The so-called Petition of Concern allows any party to veto legislation if they can argue the law would not have sufficient cross-community/Protestant-Catholic support.
     ...DUP objections to a bill of rights that would cover Northern Ireland and the Republic are based more on religious than political grounds...  A source told the Guardian on Sunday: “The DUP now appears more obsessed with gay people and their demands than any traditional, sectarian objections to the bill of rights. It reflects the continued strong influence of the evangelical Christian lobby within the party.”

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