The redefinition of marriage in Northern Ireland has been adopted as party policy by the Alliance Party – to the dismay of a former deputy leader.
Seamus Close, who was an Alliance MLA for Lagan Valley, told the BBC: “I would feel that I couldn’t be a member of a party that had that as a policy”.
Mr Close commented: “If I were still now a member of the Alliance Party I would find my personal position in great difficulty”, as he said that he was a “party stalwart for many, many years”.
The move comes as a Sinn Fein motion to support same-sex marriage was defeated in Fermanagh, with concerns about freedom of conscience being raised.
Peter Lynas, the Director of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland, also criticised the Alliance Party’s position.
Writing in the Belfast News Letter Mr Lynas said the Party had put themselves on the “wrong side of public opinion”.
He noted that almost 600,000 people have signed the Coalition for Marriage petition against redefinition.
And Mr Lynas also said: “There is no proof of widespread demand in Northern Ireland for a redefinition of marriage”.
In Fermanagh the District Council rejected a motion on same-sex marriage by nine votes to eight, with the DUP and UUP opposing the move.
DUP councillor Cyril Brownlees told the News Letter: “If the definition of marriage is changed in law all public bodies will be forced to uphold it. This will create a chilling effect on freedom of conscience.”
And UUP councillor Raymond Farrell said he did not think there was “any appetite in Northern Ireland” for redefining marriage.
Sinn Fein is putting the motion on same-sex marriage through councils across Northern Ireland.