Westminster MPs call for action on same-sex marriage

The rally outside Queen's University

The rally outside Queen’s University

MPs table cross-party motion calling for action on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

MPs from a number of parties in Westminster have signed an early-day motion calling on the government to take action to support same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Same-sex couples are allowed to marry in England, Wales and Scotland and the Republic of Ireland this week passed the measure by a landslide public vote, but it continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland by the DUP.

The Democratic Unionist Party has blocked same-sex marriage a number of times by filing a ‘petition of concern’ in the Stormont assembly.

Today, a cross-party group of MPs have filed an EDM congratulating Ireland for its move – and calling for Northern Ireland to follow suit.

The bill’s sponsors include Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley, Labour’s Emily Thornberry, Paul Farrelly and Conor McGinn, , and Northern Irish SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell.

Signatories include the Scottish National Party’s Mhairi Black – who at 20 is the youngest LGB MP to ever sit in Parliament.

The motion states: “That this House congratulates the Republic of Ireland on becoming the first country in the world to endorse the call for marriage equality in a popular vote.

“[This house] believes that Ireland has fulfilled the aspirations of equality campaigners by winning majority support in virtually every parliamentary constituency and concluding the referendum process with a decisive 62 per cent result.

“[This house] notes the remarks of Taoiseach Enda Kenny that those who voted in the privacy of the ballot box made a very public statement in the spirit of generosity, compassion, inclusion, love and equal marriage; recognises the support given by LGBT Irish in Britain, many of whom got the boat or flew back to participate on the day

“[This house] further believes that the Irish vote can serve as a beacon of hope for those still facing oppression; and urges the Government to support LGBT equality around the world, most immediately in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK and the island of Ireland where same-sex couples will still be barred from availing of their civil liberties.”

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry said: “I’m delighted to have tabled one of the first Early Day Motions of the new Parliament, celebrating this historic victory for equality.

“It’s a sign of remarkable progress that, just 14 years after the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage for same sex couples in 2001, Ireland has now increased to 22 the number of countries where full marriage equality is the law of the land.

“But while we celebrate this result, it’s important also to remember that equality cannot be taken for granted across the world, or even within the UK.

“Northern Ireland is now the only part of the British Isles where LGBT couples lack the legal protections and the social recognition that marriage affords, so as advocates of LGBT equality we should all now redouble our efforts to make marriage a right, not a privilege that depends on where you live.”

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