What now for Northern Ireland and marriage equality?

Annette Pryce takes a look at the situation as it stands now in Northern Ireland for equal marriage.


As the United Kingdom slips to 4th in the rankings on LGBTQ+ progress in Europe according to the The Independent , the pink elephant in the room sighs its never ending sigh as it, along with the rest of the UK, looks westward to Northern Ireland and the latest delay in bringing our LGBTQ+ siblings new hope for marriage equality.

With Stormont idling on devolution decisions due to a breakdown in the power-sharing deal, and no local legislation in sight, it has been the House of Commons that has brought this to the fore once again. But it wasn’t meant to be this time.

The Queerness got the latest reaction from activists in Northern Ireland, as we talk to Claire Mullaly of the TUC LGBT+ Committee and a Northern Irish activist. She said:

Speaking to the Union and Unionism conference in May 2018, Arlene Foster, without a hint of irony, described Unionism as “inclusive and welcoming” and urged unionists to reclaim citizenship and rights issues. This is not the Unionism that women and LGBTQ+ people experience in Northern Ireland.

Last year, I met James, an LGBTQ+ Texan living in Northern Ireland and found myself lamenting with him how conservative Texas is. It dawned on me that Stormont has been a global leader in the oppression of women and the LGBTQ+ community. We must not become desensitized to the systematic religious fundamentalist-led government annihilating the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. Welcome to a 1950s time warp that is Northern Ireland, led by the DUP.

Following the Republic of Ireland’s historic ‘Repeal the 8th’ vote this weekend gone and the equal marriage referendum in 2015, Northern Ireland presents a stark contrast to Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland exiles its women needing to access abortions to the UK and continuously blocks its LGBTQ+ people from marrying.

Due to the collapse of devolved government in Stormont and Westminster’s wilful negligence, it was left to Conor McGinn MP to introduce a private members bill in parliament to legislate for equal marriage in Northern Ireland – this was blocked by a lone Tory much to the disgust of the 75% of Northern Irish people who back equal marriage. The truth is that this bill should have been introduced by Theresa May’s government, but they are a government hanging on by their fingernails to power with the help of the DUP – effectively making government in Westminster an extended agent of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, this time at the top level, not just Stormont.

It dawned on me that Stormont has been a global leader in the oppression of women and the-LGBTQ+ community. We must not become desensitized to the systematic religious fundamentalist-led government annihilating the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. Welcome to a 1950s time warp that is Northern Ireland, led by the DUP.

A message to the 75% of Northern Irish people supporting equal marriage – Northern Ireland belongs to us, we know injustice when we see it and we must never lose sight of this or stop fighting it. Hardliners have taken control of power, exploiting a post-conflict Northern Ireland and its very bespoke and easily abused system of devolution to carry out their hate-filled agenda.

On June 2nd, Love Equality equal marriage campaigners, trade unions and the people of Northern Ireland, in an act of solidarity, take to the streets again to march for equal marriage. Northern Ireland cannot wait any longer.”

It would seem that Northern Ireland’s politicians, albeit the DUP ones, are now at odds with the rest of the UK and most of Europe. You begin to wonder what will move them, what will make them change their minds and will our siblings and the women of Northern Ireland ever get justice? It would seem that the lives and choices of women and LGBTQ+ people are worth less to the politicians in Northern Ireland, as they fail to see that this is a vote winner rather than a power loser. The DUP are the losers here, in more ways than one.

Follow Annette on Twitter (@LGBTEXEC)

To keep up to date with the campaign, go to this website: https://loveequalityni.org/ 

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