Northern Ireland’s DUP pledges to keep blocking same-sex marriage
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has promised to keep blocking equal marriage in their 2016 Assembly manifesto.
Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland – but continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Irish Assembly backed equal marriage by a vote of 53 to 51 last year – but the DUP used peace process powers to override the democratic process and block equality for a fifth time.
The party has been accused of “abusing” petitions of concern, which were introduced to encourage power-sharing and cross-community support, to ‘veto’ marriage legislation despite clear majority support.
The party released its first manifesto this week under new leader Arlene Foster, ahead of next month’s Assembly elections.
However those hoping for changes in party policy under the new leader will be disappointed – as it just pledged to keep blocking equality indefinitely.
Tucked away near the back of the manifesto, the party promises: “The DUP has stood by its commitment to family values and marriage and will continue to do so.”
A DUP spokesperson said: “The party supports the traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman, and we have voted along those lines many times.
“We don’t believe marriage should be redfined.”
A 15-year-old with same-sex parents recently released a plea to his DUP representative – asking him to explain why he voted to block equal marriage.
Teenager Darragh Tibbs said: “You voted no in the Marriage Equality vote of last year: I want to know why. I am the child of a same-sex relationship and I can see absolutely no reason why my brother and I should be denied a secure family set-up.
“What gives you the right to take from my brother and me the right for legal protection for our family?”
His MLA Gordon Dunne did not respond.