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Sinn Fein renews pledge to campaign for same-sex marriage

Sinn Fein has renewed its commitment to actively campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Signing a pledge to work to legislate for marriage equality party members Gerry Kelly, Caral Ni Chuilin and Megan Fearon said there is a growing demand for a change in law.

Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin, left, Gerry Kelly and Megan Fearon launch the party's marriage equality pledge in Belfast
Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin, left, Gerry Kelly and Megan Fearon launch the party's marriage equality pledge in Belfast

Sinn Fein and other parties have tried to force through new laws to lift the ban on gay marriage in five separate votes in the Stormont assembly.

However, moves to introduce gay marriage have been blocked by opposition mainly from the Democratic Unionist Party.

Ms Fearon, an Assembly candidate for Newry and Armagh, said she has friends in Dundalk "who can marry the person they love", but those who live just a few miles north of the Irish border cannot.

"We are publishing our pledge to actively work to legislate marriage equality. We believe there's a growing demand for marriage equality.

"We made history in 2015 when the south (of Ireland) legislated for marriage equality. I live right on the border. A few miles over it I have friends in Dundalk who can marry the person they love but not in Newry, likewise in London, but not in Belfast," said Ms Fearon.

She added: "So we are pledging to actively work for equality as we have always done and we want to see all parties sign up to this pledge and all parties who say they are progressive to state clearly what they will do for the LGBT community."

In 2015 Northern Ireland's assembly voted narrowly in favour of gay marriage equality but the DUP vetoed any change in the law.

The motion fell after the DUP used a "petition of concern" to argue that the law change that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Northern Ireland did not command sufficient cross-community support.

In October then First Minister Arlene Foster said her party would keep using the contentious petition of concern to block same-sex marriage in the region.

The DUP leader insisted her party was not anti-gay, but said that using the petition of concern showed her party's determination to protect the traditional definition of marriage.

Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK where gay couples cannot get married legally.

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