Words: Steve Brown
Leaders of Ireland’s equal marriage campaign have called for the Irish Government to put pressure on Westminster to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Currently, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland that still bans marriage for same-sex couples, despite there being increasing support among the public and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Around 55 out of the 90 Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have voiced support for marriage equality legislation but since the collapse of Stormont on January 9, supporters have been unable to legislate.
Earlier this month, the deputy head of the Government of Ireland, Tanaiste Simon Coveney, met with the Love Equality campaign – a campaign fighting for marriage equality.
Now in a joint statement – with signatories from Yes Equality, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Belong To, Marriage Equality and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) – the Republic of Ireland has called for the government to legislate marriage equality.
The statement reads: “Dear Sir, Tánaiste Simon Coveney’s meeting in Belfast with the Love Equality coalition, which is campaigning for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, is to be welcomed.
“It is wholly unacceptable that, years after the introduction of equal marriage legislation in every other part of the UK and Ireland, same-sex couples north of the border should continue to face discrimination.
“This is despite overwhelming support for marriage equality among the Northern Ireland public, as demonstrated in poll after poll, and the cross-party support of at least 55 of the 90 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“This past week marks the two-year anniversary of the official collapse of institutions at Stormont.
“Since then, that Assembly has not had the power to legislate. Currently, there is not even a talks process, never mind an agreement for a return of devolved government.
“That being the case, the only legislature and the only government able to address this inequality is at Westminster.
“The Irish government should take every opportunity to make representations to their counterparts in London to right this wrong.
“If it chooses, the Stormont Assembly can legislate on the matter in its own right when it returns, but meanwhile, LGBT+ couples must not be made to pay the price of political failure. The Irish government must do all within its power to ensure that love wins.”