Northern Ireland: Amnesty calls for politicians to back same-sex marriage

‘Northern Ireland’s politicians making gay people second-class citizens in their own country’

Amnesty International has called for the Northern Ireland Assembly to back marriage equality for same-sex couples when the issue is debated on Monday.

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, said:

“By their words and actions, too many of Northern Ireland’s politicians are making gay people second-class citizens in their own country. That must now end. This vote in the Assembly is a litmus test for politicians’ commitment to make Northern Ireland an equal place for all.

“Those opposing equality for gay and lesbian couples are on the wrong side of history. According to the last Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, people here now support a change in the law to allow same-sex marriage by a ratio of two-to-one and that number is increasing every year.

“International law is clear that States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“Marriage should be available to same-sex couples in Northern Ireland, just as it is in Scotland, England and Wales and may soon be in the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is being left behind as a discriminatory backwater for gay and lesbian people.

“Politicians must not allow personal bias to infect public policy-making on the issue of civil marriage, as we have already seen with the blood donation ban, attempts to block adoption by same-sex couples, and the discriminatory ‘conscience clause’.

“If Northern Ireland’s politicians again abdicate their responsibilities, once more it will be left to the courts to uphold the right of all citizens not to face discrimination.”

Note: The wording of the Assembly motion is:

“That this Assembly welcomes the marriage equality referendum in the south of Ireland; notes that a growing number of parliaments across the world have embraced, and legislated for, marriage equality; respects the rights of the religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage within their beliefs; and calls on the Executive to legislate for marriage equality for same sex couples so that all citizens will have the same legal entitlement to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage.”

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