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Northern Ireland gay marriage only a matter of time, says Scottish Tory leader

By Michael McHugh

Published 03/08/2016

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson in front of a Belfast mural depicting a lesbian kiss in support of same-sex marriage
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson in front of a Belfast mural depicting a lesbian kiss in support of same-sex marriage

Northern Ireland will endorse same-sex marriage in the near future as public support and a parliamentary majority overwhelms barriers to change, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has predicted.

Devoted Christian and unionist Ruth Davidson, who recently became engaged to her partner, Jen Wilson, also said she would love it if the Church of Scotland allowed her to get married in her own church.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles where gay marriage remains outlawed, but Ms Davidson insisted that people living here should be afforded the same rights as everyone else in the UK.

"I believe that time is coming, and soon," she said. "With public support and a parliamentary majority, the waters are building and the dam will burst.

"I believe that a tidal wave is set to overflow, and that it will, in short order, change history."

Efforts to lift the prohibition on same-sex marriage have been defeated five times in the Stormont Assembly.

While a slim majority of MLAs voted in favour of lifting the ban when it was debated for the fifth time last November, the proposal fell when the DUP utilised the controversial petition of concern mechanism to veto it.

The party has consistently argued that gay couples already have the ability to enter into civil partnerships and there is little appetite for further change.

Some Christian opponents also claim that marriage, as defined in the Bible, is between a man and a woman only.

Scottish Tory leader Ms Davidson, who is engaged to a Catholic woman from Ireland and who was involved in the successful campaign for equal marriage to be introduced in the Republic, gave a speech yesterday as part of Belfast Pride.

She also visited a new mural in the city depicting a married lesbian couple, and met with LGBT activists.

"I am a practising Christian and I care deeply about the role of the church in the public realm," she said. "I believe passionately it is a force for good.

"I might not always agree with every intervention churches make in politics, but I defend their right to do so.

"In Scotland, as in other countries, we made sure that as we passed equal marriage, we also protected the rights of religious groups."

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