Both Sinn Fein and the DUP have voted against a motion in support of same-sex marriage

Patrick Kelleher October 4, 2019
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Both Sinn Fein and the DUP have voted against a motion in support of same-sex marriage

Stormont (Tim Graham/Getty)

Sinn Féin and DUP Belfast city councillors have voted against a motion to express support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Green Party councillor Áine Groogan brought a motion to council suggesting that they should write to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith to express support for changes to the law.

However, councillors from both the DUP and Sinn Féin voted against the motion, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The proposed motion comes after MPs voted in July to legalise same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland if Stormont, the power-sharing assembly, was not reinstated by October 21. Stormont has not yet reconvened, meaning that Northern Ireland is on course to legalise same-sex marriage and abortion.

Motion would have seen council write to support ‘both abortion and equal marriage legislation’.

This week, DUP councillor Brian Kingston put forward a motion to council suggesting that they should write to Smith to express their opposition to changes to abortion law.

That motion was defeated, and Green Party councillor Groogan responded by bringing her own motion to write a letter in support of both same-sex marriage and abortion.

If passed, Groogan’s motion would have seen the council write to Smith to express “our strong support for both abortion and equal marriage legislation”.

My rights are not a political football.

Her motion read: “Council notes that a number of consultations have took place with the people of Northern Ireland related to Abortion and equal marriage, including the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey and the Amnesty International survey, both of which showed significant levels of support for these changes.

“The absence of a functioning Assembly has led to the situation where Westminster has taken the brave decision to legislate to ensure our laws are human rights compliant and that people in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those elsewhere in the UK.”

Same-sex marriage and abortion rights are on course to come to Northern Ireland.

After the motion was defeated, Groogan wrote on Twitter: “I’m astounded that [the DUP and Sinn Féin] have combined to defeat my amendment as below on the issue of abortion law reform.

“We can’t keep criminalising women & preg. People & I cant fathom how parties can’t support that. My rights are not a political football.”

MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland on July 9 of this year.

Speaking to PinkNews last month, Lord Ian Duncan, Northern Ireland Office parliamentary under secretary of state, said that “everything is on schedule” for marriage equality in 2020.

“It’s a big job, but we will deliver it, and we have not experienced any push back. We were fearful that there would be perhaps a campaign or opposition to this in Northern Ireland but there hasn’t been.

“This will be the law of the land, and once we get past that October 22 deadline we will deliver it full stop.”

More: abortion, DUP, Northern Ireland, same sex marriage, Sinn Fein

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