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No turning back the tide for same-sex marriages

Peter Lynas (DebateNI, June 5) makes great play of the fact that most countries in the world do not allow same-sex marriage. However, most in Western Europe do.

He seems content that Northern Ireland is in the company of Eastern European states such as Belarus, Hungary and Bulgaria. In Western Europe, Germany stands out because the two main Christian parties, the CDU and the CSU, oppose it.

Peter suspects that in a referendum the No side would win. Yet a Queen's University survey (reported in the Belfast Telegraph last year) showed more than half were in favour, with a breakdown of 45% of Protestants, 66% of Catholics and 74% of those declaring no religion.

Peter, who has repeatedly trumpeted a poll commissioned by the Christian Institute supporting Ashers bakery, seems to have a conflicted attitude to opinion surveys. This confusion continues when he refers to the referendum in the Republic.

His argument seems to be that the 62% Yes vote was illegitimate because it was heavily influenced by foreign money and dissent was not tolerated because it was supported by all the main parties, most of the media and many big businesses. This is a curious argument. It was actually supported by these groups because they believed in it.

Moreover, it is simply not true that dissent was not tolerated. There were many debates in the Republic's media in which both sides were given a fair hearing.

Peter is right that equality, freedom and justice are rich ideas. The Yes vote in the south advances these principles. It means that gay people who love each other can now choose - if they wish - to marry, a freedom which in no way inhibits a straight couple's similar right.

The waves are moving fast on our shores, too, and Peter, like King Canute, cannot stem the secular tide.


Director, Humanist Association of Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph


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