Northern Ireland news

Tory government urged not to block same sex marriage bill

Conor McGinn's equal marriage private members bill gets a second reading tomorrow

CAMPAIGNERS have joined Labour MP Conor McGinn in urging Theresa May's government not to block efforts to introduce same sex marriage legislation for Northern Ireland.

The south Armagh-born MP's equal marriage private members bill is due for its second reading in Westminster tomorrow.

The bill aims to bring the law on same sex marriage in the north in line with Britain. Previously the DUP and other unionists have blocked equal marriage legislation in the assembly by vetoing it with a petition of concern.

Mr McGinn's private members bill can be blocked by a government objection – a scenario that appears very likely given the confidence and supply deal between the Tories and the DUP.

A recent opinion poll showed 76 per cent of people in the north support same sex marriage.

The St Helens North MP has written to Secretary of State Karen Bradley calling for the bill's "safe passage" and asking for clarity on Tory government's position.

A similar bill in the name of Conservative Peer Lord Hayward is progressing through the House of Lords.

Mr McGinn said Mrs Bradley had previously indicated that the government would treat the same sex marriage issue as one of conscience and therefore allow a free vote.

"I'm calling on the government to get off the fence and do the right thing by the people of Northern Ireland and the thousands of same sex couples who are denied their right to marry by allowing this bill to proceed," he said.

Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality campaign for marriage equality said: "With Stormont in mothballs, only Westminster can end the inequality faced by LGBT couples in Northern Ireland."

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