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Northern Ireland: 68% back equal marriage - higher than Irish referendum. Amnesty calls for law change

Marriage equality rally in Belfast, June 2015

“It’s high time Northern Ireland said a big ‘we do too’ to equality” - Patrick Corrigan

Amnesty International has welcomed the findings of a new opinion poll which shows that almost 70% of people in Northern Ireland want a change in the law to allow same-sex marriage in the region.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that 68% of adults in Northern Ireland believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, a figure even higher than the 62.1% figure who voted Yes in the recent marriage equality referendum in the Republic of Ireland. Following the Yes vote in May's Irish referendum, Northern Ireland will now be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the right to civil marriage is denied to gay couples.

Amnesty said the figures showed that Northern Ireland's politicians were badly out of step with ordinary people on the issue and called on the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward marriage equality legislation without further delay.

The survey found that 82% of the 16 to 34 age group support gay marriage, with 75% support among 35 to 54-year-olds, and 47% support among older respondents.

By political affiliation, support ranged from 80% of Sinn Féin voters, to 79% of Alliance voters, 61% of SDLP voters, and 49% of Ulster Unionist voters. Among voters for the DUP, whose MLAs have repeatedly blocked equal marriage in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the poll shows that just fewer than half (49%) back the party's stance, while 45% support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said:

“The people have spoken and it’s clear they don't want Northern Ireland to be left behind on marriage equality.

“This poll shows support in Northern Ireland for equal marriage is even higher than in Ireland’s landslide referendum.

“Northern Ireland's politicians are badly out of step with the people on marriage equality.

“Continuing resistance to bringing Northern Ireland in step with all our neighbours is unacceptable. It’s high time Northern Ireland said a big ‘we do too’ to equality. The Stormont Executive should bring forward marriage equality legislation without further delay.”

Last month, an estimated 20,000 people marched through Belfast demanding marriage equality, in a demonstration organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project, the region's largest LGBTI group.

Note: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 16+ across Northern Ireland. Interviews were conducted face-to-face between May 20 and June 8 2015. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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