Two gay couples in Northern Ireland have been granted permission for a review of the province’s ban on same -sex marriage.
The Democratic Unionist party (DUP) has vetoed five proposals to introduce gay marriage, most recently last month. The party has used the petition of concern mechanism by which it can reject laws it believes cannot find support from both Protestants and Catholics.
Representing the couples in court yesterday, David McMillen QC said:
“Northern Ireland stands out as effectively a blot on the map. It’s nothing less than state discrimination of a class of people who have been marginalized for many years.
“The lifelong commitment of these four applicants is the same in every respect as that of any other couple. Those relationships deserve to be recognized as such by having equal access to civil marriage. It’s demeaning and offensive that their unions have been relegated to a second-class status, namely civil partnerships.”
He added that the DUP’s use of a petition of concern is “manifestly inappropriate.”
Although the DUP claims to represent a “silent majority,” a recent poll found that 68 percent of residents in Northern Ireland are in favor of same-sex marriage.