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Northern Ireland same-sex Bill 'delay' after peers intervene

Lord Hayward

Revised proposals have been agreed to ensure that MP-backed moves to allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland can be introduced - but later than envisaged.

Peers heard the aim of the amendments was to "improve and extend the drafting" of the changes to legislation overwhelmingly approved by the Commons, which had "technical problems". However, it means same-sex marriage will likely not come into force until January 13, 2020.

Introducing the revised amendment, Tory peer Lord Hayward, who founded the Kings Cross Steelers gay rugby club, told the House of Lords: "This will enable the Secretary of State to deliver a comprehensive and effective regime of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

"The amendments would also allow the Secretary of State to introduce opposite sex civil partnerships in Northern Ireland."

Lord Hayward also said the amendment contained a measure to protect religious organisations and their representatives from legal challenge if they do not wish to marry same-sex couples.

However, the DUP took issue with the wording around religious safeguards, with the Bill stating the Secretary of State "may" make regulations when it came to protections. The party's peers proposed this was changed to "must", but this was rejected.

Northern Ireland minister Lord Duncan of Springbank assured faith-based groups that they wouldn't be compelled to act against their faith, religion or opinion.

Belfast Telegraph