Children’s charity Barnardo’s backs marriage equality in Northern Ireland
Children’s charity Barnardo’s has joined the fight for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK without marriage equality, with a long-running stalemate on the issue owing to opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party and the collapse of regional power-sharing.
This week Barnardo’s NI threw its support behind the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, becoming the first children’s charity in Northern Ireland to publicly voice its support.
The announcement coincided with Belfast Pride’s ‘Coming Out for Change’ Campaign.
Barnardo’s NI director Lynda Wilson said: “We work with many children, young people and families who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
“Many of our workforce and volunteers as a reflection of society also identify as LGBTQ and we do not discriminate.
“We are committed to providing equality of opportunity and believe marriage equality is an extension of that.
“As a children’s charity we want the children and families we support as well as our staff and volunteers to know that we will stand up for them and support them.
“We believe marriage equality should be a right for all regardless of sexual orientation.”
Wilson added: “Our support for same sex couples to marry reflects Barnardo’s core belief that every person is different but equal and everyone’s unique worth should be recognised.
“We work and live in a diverse and multi-cultural environment which Barnardo’s embraces and promotes.”
“Marriage equality legislation has been passed in the rest of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, across western Europe, the USA and Australia and we hope that Northern Ireland will soon follow, giving same sex couples the right and freedom to marry if they so wish.”
The Love Equality campaign is already supported by human rights charity Amnesty International, while there is also broad support for equality across the private sector in Northern Ireland.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has faced calls to act on the issue in the UK Parliament due to the ongoing suspension of the region’s devolved power-sharing Assembly.
LGBT campaigners in the region say it is up to the Prime Minister to deliver equal rights in the absence of the devolved government, which broke down more than a year ago and shows little signs of reforming.
In a letter last month, a cross-party group of MPs urge the Prime Minister to act
They wrote: “It is deeply unfair that, in 2018, same-sex couples in Northern Ireland are prohibited by law from marrying, but those in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are permitted to do so.
“A change in the law ought to be introduced by a fully functioning devolved administration, but the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland should not delay the provision of fundamental rights.
“Hence, the government should bring the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland into its own time in the House of Commons.”
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, said: “There has been no devolved government in Northern Ireland for 18 months and there is no prospect of it returning anytime soon.
“Responsibility for ending discrimination against LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland now rests with the UK Government. Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should not be forced to wait a moment longer to be treated as equal citizens.
“We hope she recognises that to have the law consider you a second-class citizen within the UK, because you are gay, is pretty degrading. The Prime Minister has an opportunity to prove her LGBT+ credentials and we urge her to act.”