For the first time ever, a majority of Northern Ireland Assembly members have voted in favour of same-sex marriage – however the motion has fallen due to a DUP petition of concern.
53 MLAs backed a motion brought by the SDLP and Sinn Féin, while 52 voted against it. One MLA abstained.
Despite the majority backing the motion, it has ultimately failed due to a Democratic Unionist Party using a parliamentary veto to block the motion – arguing that it didn’t have enough cross-community support.
Northern Ireland is the only county in the UK that has not legalised same-sex marriage.
Dr Richard O’Leary, of the Faith in Marriage Equality group, said the continued ban on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is perpetuating the stereotype that the country is ‘backwards’.
“As a vulnerable, peripheral region fighting for its economic life in the teeth of a global depression, the message we risk sending out about Northern Ireland is that it is a region stuck in the past, out of touch with the cutting edge of global society,” he said.
“We should be honest – our history and the religious roots of our communal divisions mean we already suffer from a serious image problem. It is entirely possible that within a few years, Northern Ireland could find itself the last significant jurisdiction in western Europe where same-sex marriage remains prohibited and on the ‘wrong side of history’.”
This is the fifth time that the assembly has voted on the matter.
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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