MPs urge Theresa May to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

British prime minister Theresa May
Brendan Hughes

A CROSS-party group of MPs has called on British prime minister Theresa May's government to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The 11 MPs welcomed Mrs May stepping in to support a criminalisation of 'upskirting' after a backbench bill was blocked by a Tory MP – but said they were "disappointed" a bill on same-sex marriage was "blocked in exactly the same way".

In a letter to The Times, they said: "A change in the law ought to be introduced by a fully functioning devolved administration, but the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland should not delay the provision of fundamental rights.

"Hence, the government should bring the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland into its own time in the House of Commons."

The letter was signed by Labour MP and former shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith; fellow Labour MPs Conor McGinn, Wes Streeting, Karin Smyth, Ged Killen, Yvette Cooper and Angela Eagle; Conservative MPs Justine Greening and Nick Herbert; Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran; and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said his gay brother no longer feels welcome in Northern Ireland as he is not treated as a "full citizen".

Speaking to BBC's The View programme, the Foyle MLA said his brother Liam "thinks this place doesn't welcome him, doesn't treat him as a full citizen" and he "finds that very difficult".

Calling for an introduction of same-sex marriage in the north, he added: "If people who love each other still aren't entitled to get married, that's a disgrace and has to stop and there is a simple way of fixing it."

In April, Mr Eastwood told The Irish News it is "infuriating" that his brother is denied the same rights as him in Northern Ireland.

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