DUP blocks public consultation on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) blocked a motion to hold a public consultation on introducing same-sex marriage.
According to Sinn Fein Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir, he was refused by the Executive when he asked for a consultation to be brought forward.
He told the Assembly that as he has been unsuccessful, he will now “hand the baton” over to MLAs, some of who intend to introduce Private Members’ Bills.
Mr Muilleoir said the proposal “was voted down in the Executive, and, therefore, I cannot proceed, as Minister, with that Bill.”
The DUP back in May remained the largest in Northern Ireland, dashing hopes of equal marriage.
Arlene Foster remained the First Minister as the DUP won 38 seats compared to Sinn Fein’s 28, the Ulster Unionists 16, SDLP’s 12 and the Alliance Party’s eight.
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.
Some had hoped that, when Foster took over as DUP leader, the party might soften its stance on equal marriage.
But the party’s manifesto was published,earlier this year and it was clarified that Foster would not seek to change the DUP’s stance in favour of equality.
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.