Veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called on the government of Northern Ireland to legalise gay marriage.
The Australian-born activist, now 64, claimed:
“Marriage equality is now an election issue.”
The region is now the only part of the British Isles to prohibit gay marriage and the Love Equality campaigners aims to persuade members of the Stormont Assembly to change that. Campaigners are lobbying MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) ahead of an election scheduled for May 5.
The Assembly has already voted against same sex marriage on five separate occasions. The prominent Democratic Unionist Party is the principal opponent. Members insist that same sex marriage does not have the backing of the public, despite polls suggesting that most people in the province would in fact back the measure.
Peter Tatchell said the party had a long history of opposing equality for gay people:
“Successive DUP health ministers have maintained a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors; acting against the medical advice that led to the easing of the ban in England, Wales and Scotland. For many years the DUP opposed the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, the introduction of civil partnerships and the holding of LGBT Pride parades in cities like Belfast.”
“[The DUP] is currently the main obstacle to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.”
Photo of Peter Tatchell by Matt Buck via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence