Gay marriage to be debated by Belfast City Council

Belfast City councillors are set to debate the issue of redefining marriage in a meeting later today.

Alliance Party councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown is to bring a motion calling for the law to change to allow same-sex couples to marry “in Belfast and across Northern Ireland”.

MLAs at Stormont have rejected redefining marriage by an outright majority four times in the last three years.

Support

Councillor McDonough-Brown’s motion calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce legislation for gay marriage.

It also says that faith groups wishing to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies should be allowed to by the state.

He said: “We are keen to build support across the political spectrum for it. We are hopeful we will get a strong show of support in Belfast for the motion.”

Redefining marriage in law is a matter for Stormont to decide.

Resisted pressure

Last month, a motion calling for gay marriage legislation was defeated by 49 votes to 47 at Stormont.

In response to the vote, spokesman for The Christian Institute Callum Webster said: “We’re thankful to those MLAs who have resisted this constant and co-ordinated pressure from activists to redefine marriage.”

He had previously highlighted that a sentence supporting “freedom of religion” in last year’s motion was deleted from this year’s version.

Free speech

Mr Webster said this indicated that supporters of same-sex marriage only want to allow free speech within church services.

But he stressed that a Christian’s faith must apply to every area of their life, adding: “We can’t section off Christ’s teaching from our daily activities.”

The Republic of Ireland voted to redefine marriage in a referendum last month.

Intimidation

The poll saw 62 per cent of voters back a change to Ireland’s constitution, with 38 per cent opposing the redefinition of marriage. Turnout was 60 per cent.

Ahead of the vote, concerns had been raised 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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