Northern Ireland news

Two bills to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland before both houses

A 30,000-strong petition organised by the LGBT campaign group Love Equality will be handed in to 10 Downing Street tomorrow. Picture by Hugh Russell

TWO bills to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland will be brought forward in the House of Lords and House of Commons this week.

South Armagh-born Labour MP Conor McGinn will put his Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill before the House of Commons tomorrow, while Conservative peer Lord Hayward will put his identically-titled bill before the House of Lords today.

Northern Ireland is the only region of Britain and Ireland where same-sex marriage is not recognised in law.

Several attempts in the Stormont assembly to introduce marriage equality failed because the DUP used a petition of concern to veto the bills.

Mr McGinn's ten minute rule bill enables a case to be made for fresh legislation before MPs decide whether or not a bill should be introduced. The St Helens North representative said he believes it would "decisively test the mood of the House of Commons".

Campaigners have described the parallel bills as a "powerful demonstration of cross-party, cross-parliamentary support" for the push to bring marriage equality to Northern Ireland.

A 30,000-strong petition organised by the LGBT campaign group Love Equality will also be handed in to 10 Downing Street tomorrow calling for the British government's support for legislation change in Northern Ireland.

Lord Hayward said it gave him "great honour to launch the Westminster campaign for equal marriage rights in Northern Ireland in the House of Lords".

"I am pleased to introduce the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill in the Lords with the support of the Love Equality campaign from Northern Ireland," he said.

"The strength of public opinion for equal marriage rights in Northern Ireland will be shown by the petition they are due to present to Downing Street later this week."

Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality campaign, said: "Lord Hayward’s Bill, in parallel with Conor McGinn’s Bill in the Commons later this week, is a powerful demonstration of cross-party, cross-parliamentary support for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

"We call on the UK government to introduce its own legislation to ensure equality can now become law for Northern Ireland couples."

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