Peers attempt to impose same-sex marriage on Northern Ireland

Two Peers have launched a bid to impose same-sex marriage on Northern Ireland, with the proposal to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday.

Lord Hayward previously attempted to impose same-sex marriage on the Province last year when he introduced a Private Member’s Bill on the issue.

He and Lord Collins have now tabled an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons by Tim Loughton MP.

Devolved government

There is currently no Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont after the breakdown of power-sharing in 2017.

In its absence, a number of Westminster politicians have attempted to introduce abortion and same-sex marriage in the Province.

Lord Hayward claims his amendment would respect devolution, as it would include a clause which stipulates the move could be overturned by Stormont within six months should it become law.

‘Iron clad’

Private Members’ Bills usually do not become law. However, the Loughton Bill, which seeks to introduce heterosexual civil partnerships, has Government backing.

A separate amendment, also signed by Lord Collins, would compel clergy in the Church of England and the Church in Wales to conduct same-sex marriages.

In 2013, when the UK Government brought in same-sex marriage, it promised “iron clad” protections so that “those who do not want to conduct same-sex marriages will never have to”.

Broken promises

Colin Hart, Chairman of Coalition for Marriage, commented: “These amendments from Lord Collins and Co. break all the promises that were made by politicians in 2013.

“They make a mockery of the ‘iron-clad’ assurances that the religious freedoms of vicars, priests, and imams would be protected should the legislation go through.”

He added that when same-sex marriage was debated, the promises made to protect the millions of people who opposed it “were not worth the paper they were written on”.

He concluded: “These two proposed changes are being driven by a small group of Peers. They rip up promises made about safeguards to religious freedom in this country and must be rejected.”

No consultation

The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster said: “When same-sex marriage was introduced in England and Wales and in Scotland, there were detailed discussions about the exemptions that were required to protect religious liberty.

“Dozens of amendments were agreed by the Government. This would not be possible for Northern Ireland if regulations are used, as has been proposed in this amendment.

“The proposals will be on a take it or leave it basis, with very limited scrutiny, no opportunity for amendment, and no public consultation with the people of Northern Ireland.”

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