Northern Ireland news

Campaigners welcome new cross-party equal marriage move

The amendment will oblige secretary of state Karen Bradley to introduce marriage equality within three months, if devolution has not been restored by then. Picture by House of Commons/PA Wire.

CAMPAIGNERS for marriage equality in Northern Ireland are working with a cross-party groups of MPs at Westminster to amend legislation.

The north's ban on same-sex marriage is one of the key disputes at the heart of the power-sharing impasse, with the DUP resisting calls from Sinn Féin for a law change.

A majority of MLAs were in favour of lifting the ban when the issue last came to the floor of the Stormont assembly in November 2015, but the DUP triggered a petition of concern to block it.

The UK government has refused to legislate for the north citing the need for a devolved administration, which has not functioned since January 2017.

The Love Equality campaign wants the government to extend laws to the north in the absence of Stormont, however.

It has been working with Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green MPs, led by Conor McGinn, the south Armagh-born MP for St Helen's North.

Mr McGinn plans to introduce an amendment to legislation in the House of Commons next week.

The amendment will oblige the secretary of state to introduce marriage equality within three months, if devolution has not been restored by then.

Ministers rejected a previous Westminster amendment on the issue. Mr McGinn tabled an amendment to extend the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill to Northern Ireland, however ministers refused to extend its remit.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, said he expected the new amendment to secure strong support "so that second-class citizenship for LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland can finally be ended".

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