Alliance Party Deputy Leader and Spokesperson on Equality Eileen Bell MLA has indicated her support for proposed legislation to recognise civil unions in Northern Ireland.
There is a UK-wide Civil Partnership Bill currently under consideration in Westminster. The Department of Finance and Personnel – Office of Law Reform is engaging in a consultation exercise to see if it should apply to Northern Ireland with respect to ‘transferred’ matters, in addition to the ‘reserved’ and ‘excepted’ matters currently controlled by the Westminster Parliament. The full consultation document is available at www.olrni.gov.uk
Eileen Bell stated:
“Alliance supports the extensions of the proposed Civil Partnership Bill to cover matters transferred to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“It is clear that there are many gay and lesbian people who are living within stable relationships, whose interest in each other’s affairs is not protected by law. This can often cause anguish to partners whenever an illness, life-crisis or death occurs.
“It is right that consideration is given to how these relationships could be placed upon a firm legal footing. Social attitudes are changing, and it is important the political actors are prepared to show leadership.
“As someone who is in a long-term and stable marriage, I am comfortable that what is being proposed is fundamentally different from a marriage.
“In recognising civil unions and the rights that go with them, there is no detraction from the quality of married relationships and the importance of the family.
“Recognising the rights and status of some, does not detract from the rights and status of anyone else.
“There are also number of other people such as brothers and sisters who are living together who could similarly benefit from such legislation.”