Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly Monday (27 April) voted down a gay marriage bill for the fourth time.
Politicians at Stormont narrowly rejected the motion put forward by the left-wing Sinn Féin party by 49 votes to 47.
Sinn Féin MLA Catriona Ruane said they wanted to ‘drown out the bile’ put forward by opponents of gay marriage.
‘Together we will build a society that includes and embraces,’ she said.
Although the motion had the support for Social Democratic and Labour Party and five Alliance MLAs, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) opposed it as did all but four Ulster Unionists, who were given a free vote.
DUP MLA Peter Weir said gay marriage was ‘not a serious debate.’
‘Clearly this motion is an attack on the symbolism of marriage and the institution of marriage and an attempt to redefine marriage,’ he said.
‘My party believes, and I believe also, that marriage is between one man and one woman and once you redefine that you lose the essence of marriage itself.’
Ahead of the vote, Amnesty International’s northern Ireland program director, Patrick Corrigan, said, ‘By their words and actions, too many of Northern Ireland’s politicians are making gay people second-class citizens in their own country.
‘Northern Ireland is being left behind as a discriminatory backwater for gay and lesbian people.’
The country is the only part of the UK without gay marriage.
The Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on the issue on 22 May.