The DUP has reaffirmed its commitment to blocking same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland in its 2016 Assembly manifesto.
Pinknews this morning reports that, hidden towards the back of the Assembly manifesto, the party states: “The DUP has stood by its commitment to family values and marriage and will continue to do so.”
A DUP spokesperson said: “The party supports the traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman, and we have voted along those lines many times.
“We don’t believe marriage should be redfined.”
The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) blocked a motion in favour of same-sex marriage last year – despite it having support for the majority of Assemby members – citing a petition of concern which required the proposal to garner a cross-community majority. It was the fifth time same-sex marriage was considered, and rejected, by the Assembly.
While 41 nationalists backed the proposal, it was approved by only four unionists, meaning it could not pass. Fifty-three MLAs supported the motion brought by the SDLP and Sinn Féin, while 52 voted against.
A vote on proposed legislation can only pass if supported by a majority (60%) of members voting, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist designations present and voting.
The ‘petition of concern’ was originally instituted as a way of safeguarding minority rights in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly, reports BBC. When a petition of concern is raised, the motion or amendment will need cross-community support.
“The 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,” said Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, after Novermber’s unsuccessful motion.
“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.”
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is not legal.