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Remain voters far more supportive of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland than Leavers

Josh Jackman June 27, 2018
Demonstrators hold placards duringa protest against the pro-Brexit outcome of the UK's June 23 referendum on the European Union (EU), in central London on June 25, 2016. The result of Britain's June 23 referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) has pitted parents against children, cities against rural areas, north against south and university graduates against those with fewer qualifications. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU but Wales and large swathes of England, particularly former industrial hubs in the north with many disaffected workers, backed a Brexit. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Remain activists make their views clear (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty)

People who voted to remain in the European Union are significantly more supportive of same-sex marriage being legalised in Northern Ireland than those who wanted to leave, new polling by PinkNews has revealed.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK – and western Europe, for that matter – which hasn’t instituted equal marriage, largely due to opposition from the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party.

The DUP – which is currently propping up the Conservative Government, despite many of its top figures having made anti-gay comments – has stalled all progress on equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against the outcome of the UK's June 23 referendum on the European Union (EU), in central London on June 25, 2016. The result of Britain's June 23 referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) has pitted parents against children, cities against rural areas, north against south and university graduates against those with fewer qualifications. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU but Wales and large swathes of England, particularly former industrial hubs in the north with many disaffected workers, backed a Brexit. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-EU demonstrator holds a placard during a protest (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty)

The party has even reportedly stated that a same-sex marriage ban is their ‘red line’ in the country’s ongoing power-sharing negotiations.

Remain and Leave voters both stand opposed to the DUP’s position, with PinkNews’ polling – which was conducted ahead of the PinkNews summer reception in Belfast, supported by Citi, on June 28 – showing clear majorities in support of equal marriage on both sides.

But the difference between the two is striking, as an overwhelming 90 percent of Remainers support same-sex marriage, as opposed to 68 percent in the Leave category.

A man carrying an anti-EU pro-Brexit placard shouts in a counter protest against pro-Europe marchers on a March for Europe demonstration against the Brexit vote in Parliament Square in central London on September 3, 2016. Thousands marched in central London to Parliament Square in a pro-Europe rally against the referendum vote to leave the European Union. / AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Leave activists (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty)

This represents the biggest gap between two equivalent categories in the poll, apart from the 24 percentage points which separate people aged 18-24 and those who are more than 65 years old.

The results show that while a mere one in ten Remainers oppose marriage equality, one-third of Leave voters do so.

It was revealed this week that DUP leader Arlene Foster will speak to members of the LGBT community at PinkNews’ Belfast event.

DUP leader Arlene Foster (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

Arlene Foster MLA, who took over as DUP leader in 2015, will attempt to improve the party’s relationship with the region’s LGBT community at the parliamentary summer reception at Stormont.

All party leaders in Northern Ireland were invited to meet with and address LGBT activists at the event.

The DUP leader confirmed on June 18 that she would accept the invitation to the reception in a move that surprised many LGBT activists.

Foster will be joined by Michelle O’Neill MLA, leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Robin Swann MLA, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Colum Eastwood MLA, leader of the SDLP and Naomi Long MLA, leader of the Alliance Party.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Michelle O'Neill, leader of Sinn Féin speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street on June 15, 2017 in London, England. Prime Minister Theresa May held a series of meetings with the main Northern Ireland political parties today to allay mounting concerns over a government deal with the DUP in the wake of the UK general election. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Michelle O’Neill, leader of Sinn Féin (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty)

Foster set out her plans in a speech to the DUP executive last week. It will be the first time a DUP leader has addressed an LGBT event.

She said: “[We must] re-engage and re-energise our people, and yes, we must take our message to places that perhaps may not be traditional to our cause.

“I want to genuinely reach out to our minority communities and show them the hand of friendship, recognising they have made Northern Ireland their home.”

She emphasised, however, that the party would not be shifting from its position on same-sex marriage.

Prime Minister Theresa May meets DUP leader Arlene Foster (Charles McQuillan/WPA Pool /Getty)

“I believe I can hold to my principled position, particularly in reality to the definition of marriage, while respecting the diversity across our society and recognising that sexuality is a matter for the individual,” Foster said.

“All I ask in return is that my, and our views, are also respected and not the subject of the vilest of abuse as has sometimes been the case by a small minority.

“Just because we disagree on marriage does not mean that I can’t say that we value those who are LGBT in our society, and they should not be the subject of hate because of their sexuality.”

More: EU, European Union, Gay, leave, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, remain, same sex marriage, UK

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