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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Bill to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland

Tomorrow, a bill will come to the House of Commons that would extend Marriage Equality to Northern Ireland. The Labour MP Conor McGinn has proposed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill. The co-sponsors of the bill are Conservative MP Nick Herbert, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran and the Green Party’s Co-Leader Dr Caroline Lucas.

The legislation would allow same-sex couples in Northern Ireland to get married and would bring the law in line with England, Wales and Scotland. Delivering same-sex marriage in England and Wales was one of the achievements Conservative-led coalition government in 2014.

The Bill received cross-party support from local parties, in the province where the legislative assembly had previously voted in favour of it, but blocked under the rules by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), but the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly means it has fallen to the Westminster Parliament to address the issue.

Commenting on the Bill, Layla Moran said: "Delivering same-sex marriage in England is one of the proudest achievements of the Liberal Democrats’ time in coalition government - but sadly many couples in Northern Ireland are not allowed to marry the person they love.

Ms Moran continued: "I’d much rather that this decision was taken by local politicians in Belfast, but given that it doesn’t seem the Assembly will be up and running again soon, I believe that Westminster MPs are right to change the law to provide marriage equality for everyone.

"It is a real honour and a privilege to be sponsoring this legislation. I hope that all parties will now support it and make sure it becomes law as quickly as possible so that everyone, in all parts of the United Kingdom, no matter where they live or who they love, can get married." Layla Moran added.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley said the Government, as with the 2014 Same Sex Marriage Act, would allow Conservative MPs to have a free vote on the Bill due to it being a matter of conscience. Its unknown if the Official Opposition Labour party will also give their MPs a free vote.