Northern Ireland news

MPs pave way to legalise same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has taken a step closer
Michael McHugh

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has taken a step closer after MPs voted to legalise it if a new Stormont Executive is not formed by October.

The House of Commons decided by a majority of 383 to 73, to include the provision in legislation.

A proposal aiming to extend abortion access was also approved by 332 votes to 99.

The gay marriage ban is a key dispute between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The Stormont powersharing administration has not sat for two-and-a-half years, and Labour MP Conor McGinn led the cross-party bid to address the issue at Westminster.

Access to abortion is also a major touchstone issue in the north, with large numbers of women travelling to Great Britain for terminations, and mass rallies for and against medical provision at home.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "We are extremely grateful to all those MPs from across the UK who made clear that they would no longer turn a blind eye to the injustice and suffering faced by the women of Northern Ireland.

"The government has been told repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the United Nations Committee against Torture, and the UN Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that the current law - which forces women to travel to England for the healthcare they need or risk prosecution and punishment by using pills bought online - breaches women's human rights."

Director of The Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality civic campaign John O'Doherty said: "Parliament has always had the power to legislate for marriage equality in Northern Ireland and we are glad the House of Commons has seen sense and voted to give people in Northern Ireland the same freedoms enjoyed by everyone else in these islands.

"All love is equal and we are proud to celebrate this achievement with our community, friends, colleagues and allies from across these islands.

"Our future got a little brighter today and we hope that LGBT people across Northern Ireland will wake up tomorrow feeling more hopeful for the future we all want to see."

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