What does Northern Ireland need right now? Gay marriage, according to Labour

Sep 10, 2015

While Northern Irish politicians debate the way ahead for Stormont, one Labour MP has said what he thinks should be a priority. Redefining marriage.

Despite MLAs voting against same-sex marriage again and again, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary says introducing it through Westminster legislation should be seriously considered if Stormont is suspended.

He has also called for a referendum on the issue – although pro-gay groups aren’t too keen on that idea.

In a speech in Belfast, Ivan Lewis said, “in the unfortunate and undesirable event of the current political crisis in Northern Ireland leading to suspension of the political institutions, my party believes the government should give serious consideration to introduce legislation at Westminster to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland”.

He also backed Northern Ireland having a public vote on the issue, with any yes vote then leading to legislation which would give some protections for those who disagree.

However, gay lobby groups including The Rainbow Project said they “fundamentally disagree with Labour’s suggestion”.

They claim that they would win a referendum, but feel that given the strength of the opposition to same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, it would be “wholly unacceptable” to have a referendum when the rest of the UK did not.