DUP predicted to allow same sex marriage through muted opposition

Professor Jon Tonge believes same sex marriage will be introduced in the north within four years

THE DUP will allow same sex marriage in the north through a process of "passive acquiescence" rather than a change of policy, according to leading academic who has studied Arlene Foster's party.

Professor Jon Tonge, from the University of Liverpool, expects the law on same sex marriage in the north to come into line with Britain and the Republic "within four years" if the Stormont assembly is restored.

But the author of 'Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power' believes allowing equal marriage will not damage Mrs Foster's party electorally.

The 2017 Northern Ireland General Election study showed 44 per cent of DUP voters were in favour of introducing same sex marriage in the north, while 42 per cent were opposed.

The same study showed that younger DUP voters (18-24) were more amenable to a change in legislation, while older voters favoured the status quo.

The University of Liverpool academic said the proportion of DUP voters supporting a change in the law was growing and that "at some point the dam is going burst".

He said dropping opposition to same sex marriage through "passive acquiescence", which meant the party would not attempt to veto a change in the law with a petition of concern, would give the DUP a "tactical advantage" and enable it to appeal to young unionists – where proportionately it currently lacks support.

Prof Tonge said that while some older party members would be disgruntled, more pragmatic elements in the DUP would not be too concerned.

"I don't think there'd be a DUP veil of tears – it wouldn't be seen as the end of the world," he said.

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