Following a statement made yesterday by DUP leader Arlene Foster that the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage has not changed after the murder of lesbian journalist Lyra McKee, friends of McKee are calling on Northern Ireland and UK politicians to introduce marriage equality in her honour.
McKee, a 29 year-old journalist who had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber and Faber, was shot and killed by a gunman during a riot in the Creggan area of Derry last week.
At her funeral, a gathering of family, friends and major Irish and UK politicians heard that she had planned to propose to partner, Sara Canning, in New York in May. She had picked out an engagement ring and hoped for a wedding in Donegal in 2022.
Campaigner Sinead Quinn explained to Derry Now, “We’ve talked about setting up a movement for women, that we will call Lyra’s Law or Lyra’s Legacy, which is to force the Northern Irish government to catch themselves on and bring marriage equality here now. Because had it been here, Lyra and Sara probably would already be married.
“That’s something Lyra felt really passionate about and if we can have Arlene Foster welcomed in Creggan, then Arlene Foster can now welcome the LGBTQ+ community completely by doing that for us.”
Despite the introduction of marriage equality in both the Republic of Ireland and the England, Scotland and Wales, same-sex marriage remains illegal in Northern Ireland. The DUP has repeatedly blocked attempts to legislate for equal marriage using a veto intended to protect minorities, and the UK government insists that the definition of marriage is a matter for politicians within Northern Ireland to decide.
However, following the collapse of the power-sharing arrangement between Sinn Féin and the DUP, the Northern Ireland government that UK politicians claim should handle the issue has not existed for two years. No legislation on marriage equality from within the region is possible until a functioning government is restored.
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Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International and a member of the Love Equality campaign in Northern Ireland, told Metro, “Arlene Foster is not saying anything new when she says that the DUP remain opposed to marriage equality for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland. That has been the party’s policy for many years and is why committed couples here are unable to marry where they live, surrounded by the family and friends who love them.
“But marriage equality is no longer in the hands of Arlene Foster – it is in the hands of Theresa May.
“More than two years after the collapse of Stormont, and five years on from marriage equality becoming law for Britain, we need the Prime Minister to end the ongoing discrimination faced by LGBT couples in Northern Ireland.”
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