Current Affairs

70 percent of Brits say Northern Ireland should legalise same-sex marriage

Lily Wakefield June 20, 2019
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Northern ireland same-sex marriage

Campaigners march through Belfast to protest against the lack of same-sex marriage. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty)

70 percent of people in Britain think same-sex marriage should be legal in Northern Ireland, according to a poll conducted by YouGov for PinkNews.

Support for full marriage equality in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where it is illegal, has grown from 65 percent in 2018. Of people living in the region itself, 55 percent supported same-sex marriage.

The figures were released ahead of the PinkNews summer reception in Belfast today (June 20), where politicians and campaigners will come together to discuss LGBT+ rights.

“It is clear that across Britain, there is strong support for same-sex marriage to be legal in Northern Ireland, where there is also clear backing among the people, if not all politicians for the equality measure,” said PinkNews Chief Executive Benjamin Cohen.

“Today, the UK is the only country where marriage means a different thing depending on where you live, and it is incumbent on all politicians to work together to ensure that everyone, LGBT+ or straight has an equal stake in our society.”

Northern Ireland map marriage equality
Northern Ireland is one of few remaining parts of Western Europe without equal marriage.

In Britain, there is cross-party support for equal marriage in the region, and Conservative party voter approval in particular has risen from 54 to 62 percent.

Those who voted leave in the Brexit referendum were less likely to be in favour of marriage equality. 81 percent of remainers said they would support same-sex marriage, compared to 60 percent of leave voters.

Approval was much higher in women in the whole of the UK, but the disparity was greater in Northern Ireland itself with 72 percent of women supporting marriage equality compared to 40 percent of men.

The ban on marriage equality is “an embarrassing stain on the UK’s LGBT rights record”

A vote on same-sex marriage was held and passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly (Stormont) in 2015, but it was blocked by the conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The British government insists that same-sex marriage in the region is a devolved matter, however it has not had a functioning devolved government since January 2017.

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said: “In the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive since January 2017, only the UK Parliament can currently remove the ban on same-sex marriage.

“However, the UK government remains unwilling to legislate, leaving same-sex couples in Northern Ireland facing continuing discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. It is unacceptable and unsustainable to have a patchwork of marriage laws across these islands.

“The ongoing denial of marriage equality to people in Northern Ireland is an embarrassing stain on the UK’s LGBT rights record and cannot be allowed to continue.

“We are seeking the support of parliamentarians and people from across these islands to compel the British government to implement marriage equality across the whole of the UK without delay.”

Related topics: Northern Ireland

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