NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
As the Isle of Man government gets drawn into an argument over semantics with the Church of England over the same sex marriage issue pressure is building in N. Ireland to force a change in the law there. At present Mann and Northern Ireland share the dubious dual distinction of being the two last outposts of homophobic bigotry in Western Europe.
The Manx Chief Minister is consulting the Bishop of the diocese of Sodor and Man – who is an unelected member of Tynwald – and yet he has not consulted representatives of the gay community on the Island!
Meanwhile, 20 miles westward, the issue is being pushed forcefully. A motion tabled for July’s Newry Mourne and Down District Council meeting, if passed, would see the new ‘super-council’ call upon the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The motion, seconded by Independent Newry councillor Kevin McAteer, follows the successful referendum in the Republic of Ireland which legalised same-sex marriage. It would also build on a successful Alliance Party motion already adopted by Belfast City Council.
Councillor Brown, who attended a rally last Saturday on the issue in Belfast, told the Down News:
“On Friday 22nd of May 2015, Ireland made history as the first country ever to legalise same-sex marriage through public referendum. This is yet another step in the right direction for what has become the defining civil rights issue of our time.
“However, this referendum leaves Northern Ireland languishing in the past yet again. In Europe, same-sex marriage is now legal in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – as well as Scotland, England and Wales inside the United Kingdom.
“Renowned rights activist Peter Tatchell has even branded Northern Ireland the ‘most homophobic place in Western Europe’. This is unsurprising given the DUP-led efforts of Stormont to block same-sex marriage on numerous occasions. It is about time local councils stepped forward to rally public opinion around this vital issue’.”
The wording of Patrick Brown’s motion to Council tabled for 6 July, reads:
“That this Council believes that all couples in Newry, Mourne and Down, and across Northern Ireland, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to a civil marriage; that the rights of religious institutions to define, observe and practice marriage within their beliefs should be given legal protection; that faith groups which wish to marry same sex couples should not be prevented by the state from doing so; that all married couples of the same sex should have the same legal entitlement to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage; and calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce legislation to extend civil marriage provisions to same sex couples.”
Councillor Brown, who attended the equal marriage rally in Belfast with members of the Alliance Party, a rally organised by the ICTU, Amnesty International and the Rainbow Coalition, said he believes this motion presents the new Council with an opportunity to lead progressive change in Northern Ireland. He said:
“Adults in a loving relationship should have full access to the institution of marriage. Anything else is discrimination, and I want to live in a shared Northern Ireland led by principles of tolerance and respect.”
In Northern Ireland it seems the battle for same sex marriage has been joined, in the Isle of Man the Chief Minister is engaged in a dithering deliberation with a religious nonentity!
Meanwhile, separately, the Isle of Man government has still failed to deliver on Equality legislation promised following discrimination over housing involving a gay couple two years ago
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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