EXCL Labour MP to launch bid to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

Posted On: 
20th February 2018

A Labour MP is set to launch a bid to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Islington couple Peter McGraith and David Cabreza (right) during their wedding service at Islington Town Hall as the new law permitting same sex marriage in England and Wales came into force.

In a move which will infuriate DUP MPs, Conor McGinn said gay couples in the Province had "waited too long already" to be treated the same way as heterosexuals.

He told PoliticsHome that if the UK government did not act, he was prepared to give MPs a vote on the issue by introducing his own Private Members Bill.

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Power to introduce gay marriage is devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

But the DUP/Sinn Fein power-sharing government collapsed more than a year ago, and talks aimed at getting the Executive back up and running have stalled.

Theresa May is coming under pressure to introduce direct rule for Northern Ireland, but has insisted she wants to see negotiations between the two parties continuing.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said in a written parliamentary answer to St Helens North MP Mr McGinn that "the power of the Westminster parliament to legislate" on same-sex marriage in the Province "remains unaffected" by the ongoing political turmoil.

Mr McGinn, who was brought up in Northern Ireland, said: "I want to see these sorts of decisions being made by a power-sharing Executive and a fully functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, and restoring those institutions should be all of our focus.

"But it’s clear from the answer given by the Secretary of State that the Government can legislate for equal marriage at Westminster, and I believe circumstances are soon approaching in which it should.

"If the Government will not commit to doing that in a reasonable timeframe, then I am prepared to take forward a Private Members Bill or propose amendments to an appropriate Government Bill to extend equal marriage to Northern Ireland.

"The song says “you can’t hurry love” but in this case love - and equality - has waited too long already. It’s beyond time to give same-sex couples in Northern Ireland the same rights enjoyed by people in Britain and the Republic of Ireland."

Same sex marriage was introduced in England and Wales in 2012, and in Ireland in 2015.

However, the DUP is fiercely opposed to the move, meaning it has never been introduced in Northern Ireland.