Belfast Telegraph

DUP wants religious protections over same sex marriage written into law

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The DUP has announced it will be seeking legal protections for churches following the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

The party said it remained opposed to the "redefinition of marriage" and "extreme liberalisation of abortion legislation".

A spokesperson added the DUP had sought to bring forward a Private Member's Bill to stop abortion reform.

The party said: "If other MLAs had joined our call back in August 2017 and since to form an Assembly and have a talks process in parallel, then these issues, along with the needs of our hospitals and our schools, could have been addressed in the Assembly."

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said her party welcomed the end of the "denial of the right of our LGBT brothers and sisters to marry the person they love".

Secretary of State Julian Smith said the first same-sex marriages were expected to take place by Valentine's Day next year.

Legislation passed by Westminster in Stormont's absence meant that marriage between gay couples became legal from midnight on Monday.

In Monday's sitting of the Assembly - the first sitting in more than 1,000 days - DUP leader Arlene Foster focused on opposing the legalisation of abortion, which also came into effect earlier this week. However, she failed to mention the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Previous attempts to change the law around same-sex marriage have been blocked by the DUP in Stormont using the controversial petition of concern mechanism.

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