Northern Ireland narrowly votes against gay marriage

Members of the legislative assembly have voted 53 against, 42 in favor of introducing same-sex marriage

Northern Ireland narrowly votes against gay marriage
29 April 2013

Northern Ireland leaders in the Assembly have narrowly voted against same-sex marriage today (29 April).

Out of the 97 members of the legislative assembly, 42 voted in favor while 53 voted against.

An amendment adding language about protecting religious freedoms in the motion also failed, with 51 voting against and 46 in favor.

The vote followed the Irish Constitution Convention that voted for equal marriage with a 79% majority. 

Sinn Fein introduced the motion, with Bronwyn McGahan saying she understood there was deeply held religious views on the matter among the MLAs but said should respect the rights of gay people.

MLAs, regardless of religious belief, represent every section of our community, including our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members and this motion is about ensuring marriage equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation,’ she said.

‘What churches do is a matter for churches but the state needs to treat everyone with equality.’

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party argued if same-sex marriage was legalized, then it could lead to three or more people wanting to get married.

‘This is not an issue of equality, it is an issue of redefining marriage as it has always been understood,’ he said.

‘Once there’s a change in the legal definition of marriage then those who take up contrary views will find themselves up against the law – their rights will be infringed.’

Wilson said the motion’s reference to a vote at the Irish Constitutional Convention had no bearing on the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Both the Presbyterian and Catholic Church had written to the government to oppose same-sex marriage.

Amnesty International has warned of a likely legal challenge if Northern Ireland is left as the only part of the UK without marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: ‘States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘That obligation is clear in international law. This means that marriage should be available to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland just as it appears it soon will be in other parts of the UK.

‘Should politicians fail to act, there could be a straightforward legal challenge on the basis of inferior treatment of same-sex couples in Northern Ireland with regards to the right to marry and found a family.’

Today follows a similar vote in October when MLAs voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage.

Speaking to Gay Star News, Gavin Boyd from Equal Marriage NI said there was a lot of disappointment with the way some specific MLAs spoke about the issue, but the mood is no less upbeat than it was before the vote.

‘This fight started last October and this is not the end of it,’ he said. 

‘To anyone who is disheartened, it just shows that when the DUP said we will never have decriminalization [of homosexuality], we will never have civil partnerships, they have always lost. And they will lose again.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Gay UK MPs fight for equal marriage in heated debate

Mike Freer, Ben Bradshaw, and Margot James are among the few making their voices heard as gay people in the House of Commons
No thumbnail available

Thousands in Sydney rally for same-sex marriage

PM Tony Abbott's lesbian sister Christine Forster supports marriage equality, calls for bipartisan approach
No thumbnail available

West Hollywood's gay hotspot The Abbey bans bachelorette parties

'They are completely unaware that the people around them are legally prohibited from getting married'
No thumbnail available

My gay Dublin: Aifric Chriodain on Ireland's most charming, cheerful city

To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, the Trinity College Dublin student shares her love of her buzzing hometown
No thumbnail available

Singapore blogger found guilty of contempt for post criticizing anti-gay law

Prominent LGBTI rights activist could face jail time
No thumbnail available

Dale Lazarov is creating a new dialogue for graphic art

Beautiful stories told without words, we meet the writer who is continuing the tradition of gay art and literature.
No thumbnail available

Homophobes hack Tunisia's gay magazine

Homophobic hackers take over Gay Day Magazine’s internet accounts, emails, Twitter and Facebook
No thumbnail available

Elmo gay actor leaves Sesame Street accused of teen sex

Gay voice actor Kevin Clash is denying he had sex with an underage boy, and has taken a leave of absence
No thumbnail available

Gay England footballer and partner to become parents to twins

Footballing partners Casey Stoney and Megan Harris will become moms later this year
No thumbnail available

This gay penguin bondage book has angered parents after being found in a pre-school library

Author says children should be allowed to read it while parents say definitely not