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Northern Ireland

June 2014

A closely contested vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly saw a same-sex marriage bill defeated for the third time.

In May, members of the Assembly voted 51 to 43 to reject a motion calling for the introduction of legislation to introduce same-sex marriage.

This was the third time in 18 months that such a motion had been defeated. A few days before the debate, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had tabled a petition of concern, meaning the proposal could only be passed if a majority of both unionists and nationalists supported it.

The Sinn Féin motion stated that religious institutions should have the choice on whether to conduct same-sex marriages.

The motion was supported by the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Alliance Party, while the Ulster Unionist Party had allowed individual members to make their own minds up on the matter.

According to a report from Ulster TV news, supporters of gay marriage have held protests in both Belfast and Londonderry to object to the use of a petition. A referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage is likely to be held in the Republic of Ireland next year.

In an open letter on Monday, Catholic bishops urged politicians to reject the motion, while the Church of Ireland restated its opposition.

 

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