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UK government defends failing to pass equal marriage in Northern Ireland

UK government defends failing to pass equal marriage in Northern Ireland

Thousands marched for same-sex marriage in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The UK’s capital is about to host its biggest Pride weekend tomorrow (6 July), but same-sex couples do not have the right to marry in Northern Ireland.

The government revealed its progress on their LGBT Action Plan, a 75-point plan, yesterday (4 July).

UK defends lack of progress on Northern Ireland same-sex marriage

Not every same-sex couple has the right to marry in every part of the UK. This is in despite civil partnerships for opposite-sex partnerships across the UK this year.

A Government Spokesperson told Gay Star News: ‘We are proud that we introduced marriage for same-sex couples. It is right that they are finally able to celebrate their relationship in the way other couples have done for centuries.

‘We are clear that we want to see marriage for same-sex couples extended to Northern Ireland, however, this is a devolved matter and therefore an issue for Northern Ireland to decide.’

Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt, at Number 10’s Pride reception earlier this week, said it was an issue at the ‘top’ of her list.

‘It is the hardest politically to achieve,’ she said, ‘but that does not make it acceptable.’

‘It is an injustice that eats away at the social fabric of our United Kingdom. I have hope that in the near future we will have some opportunities to do something about this.’

Next Prime Minister will not fight for marriage equality in Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Hunt have insisted that the call to roll back a ban on abortion and marriage equality is down to the Northern Ireland government | Picture: Wikimedia Commons
Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Hunt | Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, candidates to be the next Prime Minister, have insisted it is a devolved matter.

However, the Northern Ireland Assembly has also been suspended for two and a half years.

Gavin Boyd, policy manager of The Rainbow Project, condemned the PM contenders. .

He told Gay Star News: ‘The UK Parliament is sovereign. It absolutely has the power and authority to legislate for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. The failure to do so is an affront to human rights and a deliberate insult to LGBT people.

‘The ban on marriage equality in Northern Ireland [also impacts] anyone who travels here. As long as an illogical patchwork of marriage laws exists, then the UK does not truly have marriage equality.

‘It is simply not good enough for those wanting to hold the highest office in the country to pretend that this is not in their power to fix. By refusing to end the ban on marriage equality in Northern Ireland, they are upholding it.’

UK also defends LGBTI asylum statistics

LGBT Asylum Seekers Welcome Here – Socialist Worker banner.

When the LGBT Action Plan was released, they also received criticism for not vowing to protect LGBTI asylum seekers.

The Home Office’s own statistics say the UK is also rejecting more LGBT asylum seekers’ claims than ever before, more than from any other vulnerable group.

African Equality Foundation’s Edwin Sesange told Gay Star News: ‘Protecting asylum seekers should be a priority for the UK government.

The UK are the chair-of-office of the Commonwealth right now. If they don’t treat LGBTI asylum seekers as a priority, who’s going to do that?’

He also said: ‘These laws are originally from the UK. There can’t just be apologizing, there needs to be action.’

A Government Spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and is committed to delivering an asylum system that is responsive to all forms of persecution.

‘Each case is considered on its individual merits, with all available evidence carefully and sensitively considered in light of published country information. Decisions on claims based on sexual orientation are reviewed by a second experienced caseworker as an additional safeguard.’

See also

UK government claims success in LGBT Action Plan, but activists disagree

14 things to do in London over Pride weekend

Northern Ireland’s ban on same sex marriage will stay, UK PM hopefuls say