Introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland to be debated in House of Commons

An amendment added to the Northern Ireland Bill by Labour MP Conor McGinn is due to be debated today in the House of Commons.

house of commons same-sex marriage

Labour MP Conor McGinn said that he is confident the House of Commons will extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if they are afforded the opportunity to do so this week.

Yesterday July 8, MPs begun debating the Northern Ireland Bill which is legislation required to keep government in Northern Ireland functioning in the continued absence of the devolved executive, which has not sat since March 2017.

McGinn has an amendment to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland within three months if the devolved government remains stalled.

This amendment, if selected, will be debated late today (July 9) in the House of Commons.

Speaking to RTE, McGinn said that “if it is called and selected… then I am very confident that that the MPs across all parties will emphatically endorse equal rights for people in Northern Ireland, that they can enjoy with the rest of Ireland and the rest of the UK.”

Another amendment, tabled by Labour MP Stella Creasy, aims to introduce safe and legal access to abortion services.

Same-sex marriage is currently blocked in Northern Ireland by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Marriage equality passed by a small majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2015 but has not been enacted to date as the DUP used a petition of concern to prevent this from happening.

The petition of concern was designed during the peace process to prevent legislation from passing that would favour one community over another (in the case of Northern Ireland, Republicans and Unionists). However, the DUP has yet to clarify how the passing of Marriage Equality would be of detriment to Unionist communities.

The blocking of Marriage Equality by the DUP is a contributing factor to a current political stalemate which has led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

 

Human Rights Commission calls for change to ‘discriminatory’ law against the trans community in Northern Ireland

NIHRC Chief Commissioner Les Allamby (left) and Frances Shiels. Photo credit: NIHRC/PA Wire

The Human Rights Commission took a case against the Department for Communities to back pay a transgender woman’s state pension entitlements.

67 year-old Frances Shiels was told that she could not receive her pension as a woman until legal and administrative hurdles have been overcome, causing her financial loss.

Northern Ireland is still the only part of the UK where an individual must not be married to obtain a full certificate.

The Commission settled the case and the government depart has now paid out to restore her full entitlements.

Speaking after the settlement, Ms Shiels said: “I knew from the outset that I was not being treated fairly but was only able to establish my rights when I received help from the Human Rights Commission.

“It is important that the rights of transgender individuals are properly respected and that we can fully participate in society like everyone else.”

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