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Northern Ireland parliament to vote on gay marriage for fifth time

Northern Ireland parliament to vote on gay marriage for fifth time

The Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont has voted on gay marriage five times in three years.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is to vote on gay marriage Monday (2 November) for the fifth time in three years.

But even if the bill passes the devolved parliament, it will still almost definitely fail because the Democratic Unionist Party has submitted a ‘petition of concern,’ which prevents legislation from passing without cross-community support.

A gay marriage bill was signed into law in the Republic of Ireland last week, making Northern Ireland the only part of the UK and Ireland that does not recognize gay marriage – even though it was the first place to legalize civil unions in 2006.

During the last vote in April, the bill was rejected by just two votes – with 49 MLAs voting against gay marriage and 47 MLAs – and only four unionists – voting in favor.

Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan said he hoped a majority of MLAs would support marriage equality this time.

‘I am hopeful that today will see a majority of MLAs vote in favor of marriage equality for first time, slowly catching up with where public opinion has already been for some years,’ he said.

‘However, the misuse of the petition of concern to hold back rather than uphold the rights of a minority group, will mean that the motion is formally defeated.

‘It is a tragedy that same-sex couples are forced to ask the courts to fulfill a responsibility which has been abdicated for too long by too many politicians.’

According to a July Ipsos MORI poll, 68% of adults in Northern Ireland support gay marriage – more than the 62.8% that voted Yes in the south’s referendum in May.