Amendments to Northern Ireland Bill 'overwhelmingly' voted through by MPs

The Northern Ireland Bill amendments show favour for lifting restrictions on same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

People standing up for their right to same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland. Image courtesy of Amnesty International NI Twitter.

Amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill have been passed by the House of Commons despite the attempts of DUP peers to stall them. Amnesty International Northern Ireland said on their Twitter page: “MPs have voted overwhelmingly to lift the bans on equal marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland. We’re now within touching distance of human rights history”. 

MPs voted it through by 328 votes to 65.

Patrick Corrigan, director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland and part of the Love Equality coalition, said, “This is a huge leap forward for human rights”. He continued, “We’re now within touching distance of seeing this legislation passed into law and having our rights realised”.

Corrigan is confident that the Bill “fully addresses the questions that Government ministers have raised about the implementation period and human rights compatibility”.

Lord Robert Hayward, a Conservative Peer, had introduced the revised amendment to the House of Lords during the week. At the time, he stated, “This will enable the Secretary of State to deliver a comprehensive and effective regime of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland”.

The DUP had raised concerns about safeguards for religious organisations who would object to same-sex marriage. Lord Hayward said the amendment contained a measure to protect religious organisations and their representatives from legal challenge if they do not wish to marry same sex couples, but added, “The world is changing. The same-sex marriage act in this country [England] faced substantial opposition. It’s now accepted as a part of life a few years on.”

Lord Hayward said in a press release on Tuesday, “We have listened to the concerns raised by Government about timetables, on civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples and about ensuring the law is watertight to any challenges in the courts”. 

Amendments to the Northern Ireland Bill are expected to be passed by the House of Lords on Monday next.

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