“It cannot be right that a single MP has been able to thwart the happiness of thousands in Northern Ireland” – Conor McGinn MP

Campaigners for marriage equality in Northern Ireland have expressed their disappointment and anger as a Bill designed to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland was blocked this afternoon in the Commons.

Conor McGinn MP’s Marriage (Same sex couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill, which was due for second reading today in the House of Commons, had its progress prevented when a MP raised an objection.

On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted in favour of an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill, which would oblige the Secretary of State to issue new guidance to senior civil servants in light of the ban on same-sex marriage in the region.

Conor McGinn MP said:

“Earlier this week MPs voted in their hundreds in support of marriage equality for Northern Ireland.

“It cannot be right that a single MP has now been able to thwart the happiness of thousands in Northern Ireland.

“The Government urgently need to clarify how they intend to ensure that the right to equal marriage in Northern Ireland – which has the support of the Assembly, Parliament and the public – becomes law. Equality can’t wait.

“I want to assure the LGBT community in Northern Ireland that they have friends and allies in parliament and we will keep fighting for them and working with the Love Equality campaign until we get this job done. We are not giving up.”

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Director of Amnesty International, which is part of the Love Equality campaign for equal marriage, said:

“In the very week that parliament voted in favour of action by the Government to progress marriage equality here, it is extremely disappointing that a single MP has been able to stand in the way of equal treatment for people in Northern Ireland.

“Loving couples who want the right to marry, their families and friends will feel deep anger that the Government is allowing absurd parliamentary procedure to stand in the way of equality in Northern Ireland.

“The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State need to get behind legislation to allow LGBT people in Northern Ireland to be treated as equal citizens.”


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 designed to protect the rights of minorities in Northern Ireland.

An April 2018 Sky News poll showed 76% support for marriage equality amongst the Northern Ireland public.

At least 55 out of 90 MLAs in the Assembly have publicly voiced their support for marriage equality legislation.

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.