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Gay Marriage - Northern Ireland

27 May 2016

Over in Northern Ireland, more than 15,000 people have signed a petition demanding an end to the abuse of the country's "Petition of concern mechanism" by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party who have abused this peace process mechanism numerous times to block same-sex marriage equality legislation in Northern Ireland.

Four previous motions failed to reach a majority in favour of Marriage Equality. However, even if any of these motions did achieve a majority in favour, the DUP had already used the petition of concern prior to each vote to ensure the legislation could not be implemented. This was also the case with the fifth vote in November 2015, but on this occasion the mechanism was officially enacted to veto a majority of politicians who voted in favour of gay marriage.

According to Amnesty International, at least 58 of the 108 recently elected MLA’s now support the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation. The figures are based on interviews with candidates before the election by Amnesty International and Marriage Equality campaigners, as well a review of previous voting records and public statements.

In the run up to the recent Assembly elections, four parties (Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance, Greens) committed themselves to the introduction of equal marriage legislation.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said at the time:
“There is now a clear majority within the Northern Ireland Assembly in favour of marriage equality. Based on our figures, even a conservative reading of voting intentions shows that there are now at least 58 MLAs in favour of legislating for equal marriage, with 49 or fewer opposed. This is a marked shift in favour of equality and brings the make-up of the Assembly significantly closer to public opinion on this issue.

“The last Assembly repeatedly failed to deliver equality for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. The new Assembly must put that right without further delay by passing marriage equality legislation to bring us into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland. We call on MLAs from all parties to unite behind a single Marriage Equality Bill in the early stages of the new Assembly term.”

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