Belfast Telegraph

Tory peer's amendment to allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

Patrick Corrigan
Patrick Corrigan

By Cate McCurry

A Tory peer has launched a bid to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

An amendment to the Civil Partnerships Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Friday.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles which maintains a ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

Lord Robert Hayward, who introduced a Private Member's Bill on the issue last year, has tabled an amendment to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill, which would extend same-sex marriage to here.

MLAs have not voted on the issue recently due to the suspension of the Stormont Assembly.

Lord Hayward's amendment would bring same-sex marriage legislation to Northern Ireland, while including a clause giving the Assembly six months to overturn the provision following the Bill becoming law, to allow for a resumption of devolution.

Lord Hayward said: "This amendment respects the role of Stormont, but also recognises the reality that those devolved institutions are not currently functioning.

"Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should not be asked to wait indefinitely for equality with the rest of the UK."

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director at Amnesty International and a member of the Love Equality campaign for equal marriage, said: "This is a welcome move from Lord Hayward.

"More than two years after the collapse of Northern Ireland's devolved government, we need legislators at Westminster to secure equal marriage for all. If Stormont returns we are happy to continue our work with MLAs across the parties to change the law, but meanwhile, equality can't wait."

In November 2015, the Assembly voted to support equal marriage, but the measure was blocked by the DUP using the petition of concern mechanism.

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