After being moved in the Lords by Lord Hayward on Tuesday, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Bill passed its first hurdle in the Commons yesterday. The bill secured first reading without objections after a powerful speech by St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, which concluded:
This Bill is not just an instrument to advance LGBT rights in Northern Ireland; it is a litmus test on the will of this House to uphold equality and fairness. It is high time we acted, and I hope that today will be the first step on what must be a short road to bringing about equal rights for our fellow citizens. It is a matter of fundamental inequality and unfairness and a denial of rights that same-sex couples in other parts of the UK and Ireland are allowed to marry, but that Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk are not. Cara and Amanda have a civil partnership ceremony booked for Valentine’s day next year. My Bill would pave the way for them to be married instead.
LGBT rights in Northern Ireland are in limbo. The Assembly has already voted for equal marriage and public support for it is overwhelming. Will the Prime Minister stop hiding behind the Democratic Unionist party and take this opportunity to put on record her support for the Bill being brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North (Conor McGinn)?
The Prime Minister:
I hope that the hon. Gentleman recognises this Government’s record in relation to LGBT rights. We have taken up and championed the issue. He will find that previous legislation—I think actually under the previous Labour Government—ensured that it would be dealt with as a devolved matter, and we hope that a Northern Ireland Executive will be in place soon and be able to address these issues.