Belfast Telegraph

Coca Cola, law firms and banks join call for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

By Mark Edwards

Business leaders who have signed an open letter calling for legislation to be introduced on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland have said they are struggling to hire and retain staff from the LGBT community.

Those who signed the letter include law firms Pinsent Masons and Baker McKenzie, investment bank Citi, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, consultants Deloittee and PwC and drinks manufacturers Coca Cola Ireland.

The letter stated: "While many of the arguments for equal marriage are based on rights and equality, there is also an important economic argument."

Paul Gillen, partner at Pinsent Masons, speaking on Good Morning Ulster said the lack of legislation on the issue here has put off potential employees from working in Northern Ireland.

"We had had people who have gone off to other offices and we have also had people who have mentioned throughout our networks that a place like Northern Ireland, within the UK and within Ireland as a whole, might seem a colder place for them in a marriage," he said.

"So they don't want to step off a train or a plane and have their relationship treated differently than it would be in Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland."

Mr Gillen said that a small number of people had been put off joining Pinsent Masons as a result, but that research globally suggests that countries who do not recognise same-sex marriages were struggling to hire LGBT people.

Peter Holden, from investment bank Citi, said: "It can create issues with how the workforce is treated, whether it be from a protest perspective or how we deal with pensions for example.

"A simple little example is where a person is married, under law, automatically has the next of kin set up when you come and join the firm, this is not the same for civil marriage.

"So it is simple things like that shouldn't be an issue but can turn into an issue. It is really about having the same equality across all of our employees. It is really important that we push for this to actually become law."

John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality consortium, told the BBC he wanted to see the UK government introduce legislation allowing for same-sex marriage in the absence of an Executive at Stormont.

"The brain drain from Northern Ireland is a recognised fact and it is important that we reflect upon all of its causes, not least of all the fact that Northern Ireland remains the only part of these Islands not to recognise equal marriage," he said

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