Petition of concern reform is now essential for marriage equality, says Bradshaw

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw has described the High Court’s failure to back a change to the law in Northern Ireland allowing equal marriage or recognition of marriages occurring in other parts of the UK as ‘bitterly disappointing’.

Speaking after the ruling was made on Thursday afternoon, Ms Bradshaw said that despite the ‘absolute despair’ many would be feeling, a majority at Stormont had the power to bring real change through reforming the petition of concern.

She said: “We’re not trying to give the LGBT community extra rights, just the same rights as everyone else and I know there will be great disappointment and anger among the LGBT community at this outcome .

“While the result is not what the many who want to see Northern Ireland brought into line with the rest of the UK wanted to hear, it is also shameful that this issue was forced to be decided by the courts in the first place, especially when there is already a clear majority in the Assembly to move this issue forward.

“Progress today would have been an extremely positive step forward, allowing people of every background to get the respect they deserve, and I would urge all those feeling let down today not to give up hope – equal marriage is still within our reach.

“Last May both Sinn Fein and the DUP refused the Alliance Party’s proposal to reform the petition of concern – the crucial reform that would make equal marriage a reality. Now the challenge has been thrown firmly back at the politicians and it is essential we get Stormont up and running again to stabilise Northern Ireland and start delivering for everyone.”

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