Fifth same-sex marriage attempt expected in NI

A Sinn Féin MLA has signalled that the party will mount another attempt to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Caitríona Ruane, MLA for South Down, issued a statement claiming that ‘civil rights’ are “at the core” of Sinn Féin’s push to redefine marriage.

Same-sex marriage legislation was rejected by the Northern Ireland Assembly for the fourth time earlier this year.

Rights

The statement on Sinn Féin’s website reads: “Sinn Féin gave a commitment to campaign for marriage equality and given the recent moves in both Britain and the South of Ireland we believe the time is right to extend these rights to the north.”

It continues: “We have committed to bringing a motion on marriage equality back to the floor of the Assembly and we intend to meet that commitment in the new Assembly term.”

The new term begins in September this year.

Fourth rejection

In April this year, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly voted 49 to 47 against a motion calling for same-sex marriage. There were three deliberate abstentions.

Traditional marriage supporters had warned that the motion sought to limit the free speech of Christians.

Callum Webster, spokesman for The Christian Institute, said in April: “This is now the fourth time in three years this motion has been defeated. We’re thankful to those MLAs who have resisted this constant and co-ordinated pressure from activists to redefine marriage.”

Mr Webster highlighted that a sentence supporting freedom of religion in a motion last year had been removed from the motion in April, signalling that supporters of same-sex marriage only want to allow free speech within church services.

Referendum

In May, the Republic of Ireland held a referendum on redefining marriage.A change to Ireland’s constitution to allow same-sex marriage was backed by 62 per cent of voters, with 38 per cent opposed.

Concerns had been raised before polling day about intimidation of ‘No’ voters, with pictures appearing on social media of pro-traditional marriage posters being taken down in Dublin.

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