The UK Parliament is currently discussing proposals which would extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland and the DUP is trying to delay and even block the decision made by the House of Commons.
The House of Commons voted in favour of an amendment to the Northern Ireland Bill which means that same-sex marriage will be legalised in Northern Ireland within three months (October 21, 2019) if the devolved government remains stalled.
The amendment was tabled by Labour MP Conor McGinn and following the debate in the House of Commons, MPs voted on the same-sex marriage amendment, Clause 1. 383 voted in favour and 73 voted against giving a majority of 310.
The votes have been celebrated by MPs and activists who have fought for equal marriage in Northern Ireland for many years.
However, with the bill still to pass through the Lords today, peers have been criticised for attempting to introduce “wrecking amendments” which are designed to alter or counteract the votes passed by MPs last week.
Three DUP Lords – Lord Morrow, Lord Browne of Belmont, and Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown – have tabled an amendment on marriage “requiring the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance supporting freedom of expression and freedom of conscience in educational institutions in relation to beliefs about the definition of marriage”.
This would allow businesses and organisations to discriminate against same-sex couples by not letting them avail of their products or services.
Peers Lords Cormack and Trimble have tabled a second amendment which extends the deadline to April 10, 2020.
Baroness O’Loan and DUP Lord Hay of Ballymore have tabled an amendment which states that the secretary of state for Northern Ireland must conduct a consultation with Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Northern Ireland before taking any action.
Campaigners fear that these wrecking amendments may gain support from the government, keeping Northern Ireland in the dark with regards to same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
Labour MP Stella Creasy told BuzzFeed News: “Last week the Commons spoke clearly to say we wouldn’t accept the rights of women in Northern Ireland being ignored any longer — now there are increasingly worrying rumours the government will back wrecking amendments or even pull the bill all together rather than act to ensure everyone in the UK has equal access to safe, legal, and local abortion rights.
“Any delay in this legislation, any attempts to derail it or deny it must be called out and resisted and called out for what they are — an attempt by the DUP to hold us all to ransom.”
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