Government forced into U-turn as MPs given more time for same-sex marriage bid

Posted On: 
4th July 2019

A campaign to introduce same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland has been given a major boost after the Government was forced into an embarrassing U-turn.

Campaigners for equal marriage in Northern Ireland march in Belfast.
Credit: 
PA Images

MPs want to amend the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill when it comes before the Commons next week.

As well as same-sex marriage, they also want to include provisions paving the way for abortion to be legalised in the province, and provide compensation for the victims of historical abuse.

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The Government had initially only set aside one day for the legislation to be considered, meaning there would have been little time for the proposed changes to be debated and voted on.

But following complaints from Labour MP Conor McGinn, government whips caved in and have now said MPs will have two days to deal with the legislation.

The St Helens South MP told PoliticsHome: "The Government tried to pull a fast one by steamrollering this through in a few hours, to try and stifle debate and stop amendments being laid on issues like same-sex marriage.

"It has backfired and they’ve been forced in to an embarrassing climbdown. We will now have the chance next Tuesday to talk about and hopefully vote on issues like equal marriage, abortion and compensation for survivors of institutional abuse."

The bill is needed to give civil servants the power to continue running Northern Ireland while the Stormont Assembly remains suspended.

If passed, Mr McGinn's amendment would mean that if the Northern Ireland Executive is not restored within three months, the Government would need to bring forward its own legislation introducing same-sex marriage in the province.

The Northern Ireland Office has been approached for comment.