Northern Ireland to vote on same-sex marriage for a fifth time

Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) will gather in Stormont today (November 2) to vote on same-sex marriage for a fifth time, according to the Belfast Telegraph. The last vote held in April, as well as the 3 votes prior to that, rejected a proposal to introduce gay marriage on a simple majority basis. Stormont The Republic of Ireland signed same-sex marriage into law last week after a historic referendum in May, which leaves Northern Ireland the only part of the UK and of Ireland without marriage equality. But prospects for gay marriage in the North don’t look favourable, as the Democratic Unionists have again deployed a petition of concern – a controversial Assembly mechanism that will essentially render a majority vote useless. The petition of concern requires ‘yes’ votes from majority of both nationalist and unionist MLAs. In April, only four unionists voted in favour of the proposal. Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International UK, expressed hope that majority of MLAs will back same-sex marriage for the first time, reported the Belfast Telegraph. “However, the misuse of the petition of concern to hold back rather than uphold the rights of a minority group, will mean that the motion is formally defeated,” Corrigan said. "It is a tragedy that same-sex couples are forced to ask the courts to fulfil a responsibility which has been abdicated for too long by too many politicians."