Despite the fact a majority of MLAs, including most of those representing Mid Ulster, voted to legalise same sex marriage this week the DUP blocked the motion with a petition of concern.
Up for discussion on Monday afternoon, 53 politicians voted ‘Aye’, giving the yes vote a majority with 50.48 per cent.
But the petition, which was tabled on October 23 and was originally designed to protect the interests of minority groups, means the first ever majority vote for marriage equality has failed.
In Mid Ulster the UUP’s Sandra Overend, DUP MLA Ian McCrea and the DUP’s Lord Maurice Morrow voted against the motion.
The area’s nationalist politicians; SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Michelle O’Neill, Ian Milne and Bronwyn McGahan all voted in favour of it.
Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, has praised the vote as a “significant milestone on the journey to marriage equality in Northern Ireland”.
But he has also hit out at the DUP for its “abuse of the Petition of Concern”.
“To hold back rather than uphold the rights of a minority group, means that Stormont has once again failed to keep pace with equality legislation elsewhere in the UK and Ireland,” he said.
“The battle for equality in Northern Ireland will now move to the Courts, where same-sex couples have been forced to go to secure their rights as equal citizens in this country.”
Two court challenges to Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage will be heard in Belfast before Christmas.