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Same-sex marriage setback as Arlene Foster vows to block law change

First Minister Arlene Foster has vowed to block same-sex marriage law change. Picture by Press Eye/PA Wire
David Young, PA

ATTEMPTS to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland are set to be thwarted for at least another five years after the DUP insisted they would continue to block a law change.

First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said she would deploy the contentious vetoing mechanism - the petition of concern - in response to future legislative bids in the Stormont Assembly.

Mrs Foster insisted her party was not anti-gay, but said the torrent of online abuse she received from LGBT activists demanding a law change had made it even less likely for the DUP to support their calls.

She also said her willingness to use the petition of concern voting tool reflected her party's strong determination to protect the traditional definition of marriage. She said the DUP was keen for a conversation about scrapping the petition mechanism, but claimed other parties were not up for it.

Mrs Foster also criticised the Equality Commission for its handling of the so-called "gay cake" case when it supported a gay activist's discrimination claim against Ashers Bakery.

She said the commission, which spent almost £90,000 in legal costs backing Gareth Lee, needed to take a long look at itself and stop favouring the "metropolitan liberal elite definition" of equality.

Ashers' owners, the McArthurs, were found to have discriminated against Mr Lee with the finding upheld by the Court of Appeal in Belfast this week.

"We have an enormous amount of sympathy for the McArthur family," she said.

"We feel they have been through an absolutely horrific time - not helped I have to say by the actions of Equality Commission.

"I think the Equality Commission have not covered themselves in glory, in fact I think it's quite troubling the way in which they have behaved in all of this."

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