20,000 sign petition to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland
Same-sex marriage is yet to be legalised in Northern Ireland.
Over 20,000 people have signed a petition to legalise same-sex marriage, which will be presented to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont today.
A demonstration calling for the introduction of marriage equality will also be held this morning on the steps of Parliament Buildings.
The petition – organised by the Belfast-based LGBT news group The Gay Say – will be submitted by People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll.
The petition protests against the use of the petition of concern by the DUP to stop a majority vote by MLAs in favour of same-sex marriage being passed.
The party has been accused of “abusing” petitions of concern – which were introduced via the peace process to encourage cross-community power-sharing – to ‘veto’ marriage legislation.
The Northern Irish Assembly backed equal marriage by a vote of 53 to 51 last year – but the DUP used the peace process powers to override the democratic process and block equality for a fifth time.
And despite clear opposition, the party has promised to “stand by its commitment to family values and marriage”.
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“This position has been outlined on every occasion the issue has been debated in the Assembly and was contained within the party’s manifesto for the 2016 Assembly election,” a DUP spokesperson said.
However, the public is clearly losing patience on the issue – with polls finding that support for equality has reached record heights, even among DUP voters.
“By ignoring the majority will and blocking the right of LGBT couples to marry, the DUP is subverting democracy,” LGBT rights advocate Peter Tatchell – who helped organise the petition – said.
“The time has come for the DUP to end its four decades of opposition to LGBT equality.”
Mr Tatchell has leant his support to the campaign alongside drag artist Panti Bliss – who played an instrumental part to securing marriage equality in the Republic of Ireland last year.