Northern Ireland: Amnesty welcomes Commons vote on abortion and marriage equality

House of Commons votes 207 to 117 to force Northern Ireland Secretary to act on human rights issues

Amnesty International has welcomed a vote in the House of Commons this evening which will put pressure the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley MP to take action on abortion and marriage equality.

Northern Ireland’s near total abortion ban means that women in the region are forced to travel to England for healthcare and means same-sex marriage is not allowed.

The new law will oblige the Secretary of State to issue new guidance to senior civil servants in the region and to report quarterly to Parliament. While the move does not result in a change to the law to allow wider access to abortion and to same-sex marriage, it will increase pressure on the government to allow a change in legislation.

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

“Parliament has spoken this evening and the government must listen. The government should now provide proper legislative time to the Private Members’ Bills sponsored by Diana Johnson and Conor McGinn which are currently working their way through Parliament. Without that support, people in Northern Ireland will continue to live as second-class citizens within the UK.

“We want to pay tribute to all the MPs from a range of parties across Westminster who backed this move and to Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn for their leadership in the Commons."

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said: 

“People in Northern Ireland are being denied rights enjoyed by those in other parts of the UK on issues such as marriage equality and access to abortion.

“This Commons vote is a significant step toward ensuring that people in Northern Ireland can access those rights as equal citizens. It is clear there is a strong cross party constituency of support at Westminster for change.

“Women in Northern Ireland are suffering under the current legislative regime. That suffering must be brought to an end and it is within the power of the government to do so. It is time for Government to end the inequity citizens here face. Our work will continue until that happens."

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