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Live stream: Northern Ireland MLAs debate gay marriage for fourth time at Stormont

Sinn Fein motion calls on the Executive to legislate for marriage equality for same sex couples

By Claire Cromie

Published 27/04/2015

Caitriona Ruane. Pic BBC
Caitriona Ruane. Pic BBC

The Northern Ireland Assembly is discussing gay marriage at Stormont today, after Sinn Fein brought a fourth motion calling on the Executive to legislate for marriage equality.

The debate comes on the same day Health Minister Jim Wells resigned, after he claimed children brought up by gay parents were more likely to be abused.

Caitriona Ruane said there is "no excuse" for his comments, telling the chamber that Sinn Fein "are not here to legislate on the basis of personal belief, but on the basis of equality".

Gay marriage rejected by Stormont

The South Down MLA said they wanted to "drown out the bile" put forward by opponents of equal marriage.

She said: "Together we will build a society that includes and embraces."

The DUP will oppose the motion. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster labelled it an election stunt.

The party's Peter Weir said: "This is not a serious debate. Clearly this motion is an attack on the symbolism of marriage and the institution of marriage and an attempt to redefine marriage.

"My party believes, and I believe also, that marriage is between one man and one woman and once you redefine that you lose the essence of marriage itself."

Almost a year ago to the day - on April 29, 2014 - the Assembly rejected same-sex rights for the third time in 18 months.

Then, Sinn Fein's motion was defeated by 51 votes to 43, a slightly wider margin than when the issue was first debated in late 2012.

It was backed by the SDLP and almost all Alliance MLAs, but opposed by the DUP and most UUP MLAs.

Basil McCrea and John McCallister of NI21 supported the motion along with Green Party MLA Steven Agnew. TUV leader Jim Allister and Ukip's David McNarry voted against it.

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