Long accuses First Minister of being disingenuous over equal marriage stance

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has accused the First Minister of being disingenuous by suggesting online trolling has made her more determined to continue blocking equal marriage by using the petition of concern mechanism.

Mrs Long, one of a number of cross-party MLAs working to bring a private member’s bill on the matter, said it would not stop her bringing legislation forward.

“This is exactly the same hard-line position on this issue which the DUP adopted in negotiations with us in May, and is one of the reasons we walked away from that offer. Despite being their partner in Government, Sinn Fein has neither then nor now expended an ounce of political capital on getting the issue resolved.

“For Arlene Foster to suggest online trolling has made her more determined is unbefitting her leadership role. Punishing the entire LGBT community for the behaviour of a small number of trolls is both childish and unjust. It is also disingenuous, as her party has always fully resisted any progress towards full equality for LGBT people.

“I respect the DUP have a mandate to oppose equal marriage, but they can fulfil that commitment by voting against any proposals. They do not need to use the petition of concern to overrule a democratic majority and it is disappointing they still appear committed to doing so.

“As one of those involved in bringing forward legislation, it is disappointing the First Minister is unwilling to enter into open conversations seeking a resolution to this matter which can protect the rights of faith groups to define and practice marriage in their own terms, but allow same sex couples to access civil marriage provisions equally with every other couple.

“Sadly, she seems to be slamming the door in the face of those conversations. However, I remain committed to that engagement and hope she will reflect on the stance she is currently adopting.”

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