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The DUP wants religious protections written into law now same-sex marriage has been legalised

Emma Powys Maurice October 23, 2019

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking to media after a failed attempt to oppose the legalisation of abortion and same-sex marriage (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

The DUP has stated that it remains opposed to same-sex marriage and will be seeking legal protections for churches who don’t want to perform the ceremonies.

Same-sex marriage and abortion became legal in Northern Ireland at midnight on 21 October after the country’s devolved government was unable to reform in time to block the legislation.

The opposition to marriage equality was spearheaded by the DUP, led by Arlene Foster.

As her attempts to re-establish the government on the eve of the deadline failed, she declared: “This is not the end of the matter, as far as this party is concerned,” before storming out of the chamber.

With the legislation now passed, she confirmed that the party still opposes the “redefinition of marriage” and will be seeking to have religious protections against same-sex marriage written into law.

The party will also be bringing forward a Private Member’s Bill to stop what they call the “extreme liberalisation of abortion legislation”.

The DUP said: “If other MLAs had joined our call back in August 2017 and since to form an Assembly and have a talks process in parallel, then these issues, along with the needs of our hospitals and our schools, could have been addressed in the Assembly.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said her party welcomed the end of the “denial of the right of our LGBT brothers and sisters to marry the person they love”.

Three of the largest churches in Northern Ireland – The Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland – have explicitly stated they will not perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

However, All Souls Church, a Presbyterian Church based in south Belfast, confirmed it will provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to have their marriage solemnised.

The church’s moderator, Reverend Chris Hudson, warmly welcomed the new legislation on same-sex marriages and confirmed that he personally will host the weddings.

More: Arlene Foster, DUP, marriage equality, Northern Ireland, same sex marriage

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