Northern Ireland again rejects efforts to legalize same-sex marriage

BELFAST — The Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday rejected a motion to join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast Source
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast Source

The vote — 51 against and 43 in favor — marks the third time in the past 18 months that lawmakers have rejected efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, making Northern Ireland the only part of the UK which has not legalized marriage equality.

“Politicians in Northern Ireland who continue to block marriage rights for same-sex couples are like latter-day King Canutes, trying in vain to hold back the tide of equality,” said Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International.

“With politicians continuing to block equality, it is now inevitable that same-sex couples in Northern Ireland will take a legal challenge on the basis of inferior treatment with regards to the right to marry and found a family,” he said.

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Opposition to the measure was led by the Catholic Church, whose bishops had urged politicians to reject “marriage equality” for same-sex partnerships in Northern Ireland while the Church of Ireland restated its opposition to any change to the traditional definition of marriage.

Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales last month, and Scotland passed a similar law in February that comes into effect in October.

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