Theresa May has refused to intervene in the legalisation of same-sex marriage debate in Northern Ireland, despite the limbo in Belfast after the collapse of power-sharing.
During prime minister’s questions, Ms May was accused of ‘hiding behind the DUP’ in her refusal to act on the issue – despite the overwhelming public support in the province.
The prime minister insisted that it is a ‘devolved matter’ which will be dealt with ‘soon’ at Stormont – this is despite the 15-month failure to restore the power-sharing executive and assembly.
The issue was raised in the House of Commons after numerous attempts to push the debate forward. Opposing parties, Labour and the Tories, are currently promoting parallel same-sex marriage bills in Westminister.
Ged Killen, a Labour MP, told the prime minister:
‘LGBT+ rights in Northern Ireland are in limbo.
‘The assembly has already voted for equal marriage and public support for it is overwhelming.
‘Will the prime minister stop hiding behind the DUP and will she take the opportunity to put her support on record for the Bill being brought forward?’
This was met with an insistence from Ms May that legislation passed by the last Labour government meant the issue of same-sex marriage was for Belfast to decide:
‘This is an issue that we have taken up, it is an issue we have championed,’ she insisted.
And she added: ‘We hope that there will be a Northern Ireland executive in place soon that will be able to address these issues.’
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that is yet to recognise same-sex marriage in law, despite several attempts to introduce marriage equality through the devolved assembly.
The socially-conservative DUP has staunchly opposed the bills, vetoing them using petitions of concern, which were designed to safeguard minority rights in the region.
The DUP is propping up Ms May in Downing Street, following the lost Tory majority last year, providing support for key votes in return for £1.2bn for Northern Ireland.
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