Council urged to support gay marriage
A SINN FEIN Councillor has urged Dungannon Council to become only the fourth local authority in Ireland to pass a motion in support of same-sex marriage.
Coalisland representative Padraig Quinn made the call ahead of his party’s submission of a motion calling for marriage equality, regardless of sexual orientation, race or religion.
The motion is due to be debated at Dungannon District Council’s September meeting.
Last month, Belfast City Council became the first local authority in Ireland to pass a motion in support of gay marriage. It was passed by 21 Sinn Fein and SDLP votes to zero — unionists walked out before the vote, while all Alliance councillors except one abstained.
Sinn Féin has went on to pass similar motions in Cork, Omagh and Magherafelt, and aims to discuss the issue in as many councils as possible.
Councillor Quinn said: “Sinn Féin is a party committed to the equality agenda. We believe that all citizens regardless of race, religion or sexuality should be treated as equals in the eyes of the law.
“Civil partnership is not the same as marriage. It is different in many ways. Although civil partnership offer some rights and protection, it is not equality and it does not extend all the same rights to same sex couples as marriage would, including rights in relation to children and other critical rights.
“Every citizen should enjoy the same rights and entitlements, which includes marriage and this is the basis of the motion that I have submitted to the council. Councillors, regardless of religious belief, represent every section of our community, including our LGBT members. This is about ensuring marriage equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Same sex marriage has some high profile objectors in the local area such as UUP peer Ken Maginnis, who has compared homosexuality to ‘a rung on the ladder to bestiality’.
John O’Neill, director of the Rainbow Project, based in Belfast — which offers support services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Northern Ireland — said the passing of the marriage equality motion in local councils is to be welcomed. “This is an important step towards ensuring marriage equality for everyone across Northern Ireland regardless of their sexual orientation”, he said.
Belfast was the first city in the UK to hold a civil partnership for a gay couple in December 2005, when Grainne Close from Ahoghill and Shannon Sickles got hitched at the City Hall. The Civil Partnership Act provides same-sex couples with similar legal rights to married couples.
But the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages, and since it was passed, campaigners have pushed for full equality with heterosexual marriage.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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