Responding to news of the recruitment of staff by the Northern Ireland Office to work on equality and human rights issues, including marriage equality, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said:
“We welcome this appointment of a senior civil servant within the Northern Ireland Office, apparently with a remit to help bring marriage equality to Northern Ireland in the absence of devolved government. The Secretary of State should now make clear her intentions to the Northern Ireland public, including the many same sex couples trying to plan their future.
“The Love Equality campaign looks forward to an early meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss how best to bring Northern Ireland into line with the other jurisdictions in these islands with the legal recognition the right of same sex couples to marry.
“Ultimately, marriage equality must and will become a reality in Northern Ireland. In the absence of an Assembly and Executive, the responsibility for undoing marriage discrimination in Northern Ireland falls to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We hope she will choose to be an ally to LGBT people, their friends, family members and the overwhelming majority of people here who wish to live in an equal society.”
The Love Equality campaign for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland is led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI
Northern Ireland left behind
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland which still bans marriage for same-sex couples, despite majority support among the public and in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In November 2015, a majority of MLAs in the Assembly voted to support equal marriage, but the measure was blocked by the DUP using a Petition of Concern, a voting mechanism originally designed to protect the rights of minorities in Northern Ireland. An Ipsos MORI poll in 2016 showed 70% support for marriage equality amongst the Northern Ireland public.