Human Rights activists have called on the UK government to make 2019 the year they extend equal marriage rights to the people of Northern Ireland. Despite a majority of MLAs voting to pass equal marriage in 2015, the DUP used a petition of concern to block the vote.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, one of those activists, Stephen Doonan, spoke about his frustration over the lack of equal marriage rights. “Too much time has been lost for same-sex couples who wish to get married here. We are either equal citizens in the United Kingdom or we are not, and currently we are not. I have been part of the campaign for marriage equality since 2011 and every year we have hoped this will be the year it happens, but it never has. I think it is time the Westminster Government took action.”
Amnesty International have said the continuing deadlock in Stormont has meant human rights have been trapped in “political limbo”. Their Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, stated “For two years the people of Northern Ireland have had their rights trapped in political limbo as the Stormont crisis continues. The absence of a sitting Assembly has blocked advancement on key human rights issues, leaving Northern Ireland far behind the rest of the UK.”
Corrigan continued: “In Northern Ireland, same-sex couples still cannot legally marry, and women are subject to some of the most draconian and outdated abortion laws in the world. The UK Government has the power and authority to legislate for change on these urgent human rights issues and cannot keep blaming the Stormont deadlock for inaction. Two years is already far too long. Our rights cannot be sacrificed any longer.”
He also stated: “In 2019 we will build on existing support across parties in both the House of Commons and House of Lords and we will be asking the Government to stop turning their backs on LGBT+ people.”
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