Ministers accused of forcing legislation which would block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

Along with same-sex marriage, abortion rights and compensation for survivors of institutional abuse would also be affected by the rushed legislation.

A same-sex marriage rights demonstration outside Belfast city hall

Critics have accused Tory ministers of rushing through legislation which will affect the fight for same-sex marriage.

Labour MP Conor McGinn was to add an amendment to government legislation before the Commons next week, with backing from a cross party group of ministers. The passing of this amendment could have meant that the UK government could have made same-sex marriage legal in Northern Ireland within months if Stormont wasn’t restored.

McGinn stated at the time, “There is currently no devolved Assembly. There has been no executive in place since January 2017. How much longer are LGBT people in Northern Ireland supposed to wait?

“The government can’t continue to invoke devolution or negotiations to re-establish Stormont in perpetuity. So what we’ve said is, we’ll give you three months to try and resolve this – if you can’t, Westminster will do what it arguably already should have done.”

But this Monday, the UK Government will attempt to pass new legislation in just one day by introducing it as emergency which will further delay the August deadline for new Stormont elections. The fact it is emergency legislation means there is less time to scrutinise and debate parts where the government could face defeat.

These areas include same-sex marriage, abortion rights and compensation for those affected by institutional abuse. Critics of the move say this is an attempt to block the cross-party effort to legalise same-sex marriage and spares the UK government a fight with the DUP. 

McGinn said, “Rather than allowing its MPs a free vote as promised, the Government is now actively and disgracefully blocking any attempt to introduce equal marriage. They have put themselves on the wrong side of history, and against LGBT rights. I know that MPs across the House will be outraged. I hope our Parliamentary cross-party coalition for equal marriage will stand up and be counted on Monday.”

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