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Poll finds overwhelming support for equal marriage in Northern Ireland

Nick Duffy September 18, 2017

Belfast Pride (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A poll has found that support for equal marriage in Northern Ireland remains strong despite political failures.

Northern Ireland is the last part of the United Kingdom without equal marriage, as the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party has employed peace process powers to override votes in favour of equality in the regional Assembly.

Further complicating matters, the country’s devolved government and parliament are both currently suspended due to the collapse of a power-sharing agreement.

But despite the failure of lawmakers in the region to implement equal marriage, polling has found that support remains strong among the population.

Polling from Lucidtalk found that 61 percent believe same-sex marriage should be legal in Northern Ireland.

Just 32.5 percent believe “the current NI law should remain as it is”, permitting civil partnerships but refusing to recognise same-sex marriage.

The polling found that support was highest among Republicans, who believe that Northern Ireland should break away from the UK or join a united Ireland.

91.4 percent of Republicans support equal marriage, with just 4.7 percent opposed, despite the prevalence of traditional Catholic voices.

Meanwhile, just 37.5 percent of Unionists – those who believe Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK – supported equal marriage.

56.3 percent of Unionists were opposed to same-sex unions, despite the law in every other part of the UK.

Although equal marriage enjoys overall support in Northern Ireland, the likelihood of it becoming law in the region is distant due to ongoing political challenges.

In a blow to campaigners, the country’s High Court recently rejected a legal challenge seeking equal marriage, finding no grounds under human rights law to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Following the court ruling, LGBT activists now believe the only way to secure equal marriage in the region in the near future is for the UK government to directly intervene.

The Director of The Rainbow Project John O’Doherty explained: “Of course, we would prefer that the Northern Ireland Assembly were in a position to grant these rights; the Assembly is not currently functioning.

“It is, therefore, the responsibility of Theresa May’s government to make the necessary amendments to the marriage legislation to make it applicable in Northern Ireland.

“The eyes of LGBT people around the world will now be on Theresa May. She says that she has changed her mind on LGBT equality over her years in Parliament. Now is her chance to prove it.”

Clare Moore of Love Equality concurred: “During this period of political instability it is now imperative that the Westminster government takes immediate action to ensure that the rights of LGBT people in United Kingdom are available for all UK citizens.”

Related: Why doesn’t Northern Ireland have equal marriage yet?

More: equal marriage, LGBT, NI, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, poll, same sex marriage

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