Campaigners want meeting with Secretary of State to discuss on-going impasse to extension of same sex marriage to Northern Ireland
Campaigners for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland have criticised Secretary of State Karen Bradley for comparing the on-going denial of marriage equality to the roll-out of broadband in an interview on radio station U105 this morning.
The campaigners, from the Love Equality coalition, have renewed their call for an urgent meeting with the new Secretary of State, given the centrality of same sex marriage to a new round of political talks which she has called, due to commence on Wednesday.
John O’Doherty of The Rainbow Project said:
“I find today’s comments by the Secretary of State absolutely insulting to same sex couples across Northern Ireland currently denied equal treatment under the law. The denial of rights to UK and Irish citizens living in Northern Ireland should not be minimised and it is particularly galling to hear these comments from an MP who purports to support same sex marriage and equality for LGBT people.
“Despite numerous requests, the previous Secretary of State James Brokenshire failed to meet the Love Equality coalition. We once again urge the Secretary of State to meet with representatives of the campaign so that she can fully understand the hurt, anger and frustration felt by LGBT people, currently treated as second class citizens within Northern Ireland by the UK Government.”
Responding to a question about marriage equality from broadcaster Frank Mitchell on U105 this morning, Secretary of State Karen Bradley said:
“It will be a matter for the elected politicians in Northern Ireland… that’s not for me to impose, in the same way it’s not for me to impose the way that super-fast broadband is rolled out across the country.”
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.
Tens of thousands of people have taken part in marches in Belfast in support of marriage equality organised by the campaign in recent years.
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.