Northern Ireland news

Equal marriage campaigners disappointed after meeting with DUP

The Stormont meeting between the DUP and Love Equality

CAMPAIGNERS for same-sex marriage have said they are disappointed that the DUP has no plans to change its stance.

The Love Equality coalition yesterday held a meeting with a DUP delegation headed by former health minister Edwin Poots.

It said the discussion at Stormont was one of a series planned to take place in parallel with the current all-party negotiations.

The north is the only part of Ireland and Britain where same sex-marriage is unlawful.

The coalition of campaigners, including the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI, is urging the north's politicians to ensure equal marriage is part of any settlement to restore devolution.

The group also wants to see a reform of the petition of concern, the assembly veto mechanism which the DUP previously deployed on the issue.

In 2015, MLAs voted for the first time by a narrow majority in favour of same-sex marriage but the motion was blocked by the requirement for cross-community consent.

Love Equality spokeswoman Cara McCann said the DUP refused to give a commitment yesterday not to veto a change in the law.

"Sadly, the DUP remains opposed to civil marriage equality for Northern Ireland in the face of overwhelming support among the public and within the assembly," she said.

“No commitment was given by the party to end their use of the petition of concern, and if this remains their position, it is difficult to see how any new executive could be considered a government for all the people of Northern Ireland."

Ms McCann urged Stormont's other parties to "deliver marriage equality".

She added that if local politicians could not deliver same sex marriage then campaigners would ask the British government to "ensure equality for all citizens".

A DUP spokesman said the party was mandated to "defend the current definition of marriage".

He described the meeting as a "useful exchange of views".

"The debate about this matter can be highly energised – we would urge respect and sensitivity on all sides," the spokesman added.

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