BRITAIN: PM Theresa May Under Fire As Northern Ireland Marriage Bill Advances In House Of Commons

The Irish Times reports:

MPs have voted to give a second reading to a bill that would give same-sex couples in Northern Ireland the right to marry. Introducing the bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday, South Armagh-born Labour MP Conor McGinn said he was doing so “with reluctance and some disappointment”.

He added: “This measure is long overdue. Northern Ireland is the anomaly on these islands when it comes to LGBT rights. My constituents in St Helens and people in London, Dublin, Cardiff and Edinburgh can all get married to the person they love. “But same-sex couples in Northern Ireland are denied that basic right. That is wrong and it must finally be corrected,” he said.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted on marriage equality five times, finally approving it by 53 votes to 52 in November 2015. However, the legislation was blocked by a DUP petition of concern.

The Independent reports:

Theresa May has refused to intervene to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, despite the “limbo” in Belfast after the collapse of power-sharing. The prime minister was accused of “hiding behind the DUP” [Democratic Unionist Party] by refusing to act on the issue – despite “overwhelming” public support in the province.

But Ms May insisted it was a “devolved matter”, to be dealt with “soon” at Stormont – despite the 15-month failure to restore the executive and assembly there.  The controversy was raised in the Commons because a backbench Bill to introduce same-sex marriage has been brought forward jointly by a Labour MP and a Tory peer.

Yesterday an identical same-sex marriage bill advanced in the House of Lords. The British Parliament has taken up the issue because Northern Ireland’s devolved government collapsed in late 2016 and has not yet reformed.