UK Conservative Party Refuses to Support Same Sex Marriage
Political expediency trumps morality and democracy
Last weekend, it was London’s turn to host its annual pride march
The UK is a generally progressive country when it comes to LGBT+ rights. Are things perfect? No, but equality laws here in the UK are some of the best in the world, and social attitudes towards LGBT+ people are generally positive.
In all the celebrating, it’s important to remember that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in all of the UK.
Northern Ireland stands alone in the Union as not yet having legalised same-sex marriage.
The reason is not down to lack of trying. Nor do public attitudes in the region differ from those in the rest of the UK. Recent polls suggest strong support for same-sex marriage, with more than 80% of the public favouring it. In 2015, the Northern Irish Assembly actually passed a same-sex marriage bill.
The blame for lack of equality in the region falls on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has taken advantage of a unique political situation to veto equal marriage laws. This is compounded by the lack of government in the region since 2017 after power sharing talks failed, and by the UK government’s unwillingness to take executive control over marriage equality laws.
Now Conservative Party ministers are accused of blocking legalisation at the UK parliamentary level —
In order for public services to run in Northern Ireland whilst the assembly is dissolved, the UK government has been passing temporary measures in parliament. They face fresh criticism this week after trying to rush an emergency law through the House of Commons — in a transparent attempt to block an amendment which would legalise same-sex marriage.
Proponents of marriage equality within the Labour Party are trying to amend the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) bill to legalise same-sex marriage without the consent of the Northern Ireland assembly. However, the government has only set aside one day for debate, leaving no time for the proposed amendment to be voted on.
Rushing the bill through the Commons is blatant pandering to the DUP by the government —
The ruling Conservative Party relies on the DUP to remain in power, and without their support, the government would collapse. They know that the DUP is ideologically opposed to marriage equality, and therefore are doing all they can to stop parliament from passing the amended bill, which would likely be granted passage with a large majority.
The Labour MP and campaigner for marriage equality in Northern Ireland said to the House of Commons last Friday:
It seems to be a pretty transparent and poor attempt to stifle debate on issues like abortion and equal marriage and restitution for victims of institutional abuse — not just to stifle debate actually, but to block any progress on them.
He highlights the issue perfectly: the government is using its position of power to block any advancement on progressive legislation that has been ignored since the Northern Irish Assembly dissolved in 2017 after the failure in power-sharing talks.
This is the same government that in its ‘LGBT Action Plan’ declared that it has a proud record in advancing equality for LGBT people. In this recent piece, I show that the UK needs more action to promote equality in society for LGBT+ people, and that the current government has failed to act. They have little basis for touting a “proud record.”
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After seeing their plans this week, this government’s pandering to bigoted parliamentary bedfellows shows them not only failing to act, but actively promoting inequality. The Conservative Party have shifted from passive acceptance of inequality to active purveyors of oppression.
Remember, 80% or more of the Northern Ireland population is calling for same-sex marriage, and LGBT+ people there deserve equality — not oppression.
Here is yet another example of this Tory government putting its own interests before the interests of the citizens of the country it is supposed to serve. If they were truly progressive around LGBT+ rights, this government would be doing all in its power to ensure that marriage and equality rights extend to all citizens of the UK.
The government must allow this amendment to be put to a vote.
If you are a UK citizen, I implore you to write to your Member of Parliament to show them that as a constituent, you support lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
I am a gay UK citizen in England who can marry a man should I wish to. My Northern Irish counterparts MUST enjoy that same right, the wishes of a minority party of religious fanatics like the DUP notwithstanding.