In a major victory for the LGBTQ community and women, British MPs have voted to extend same-sex marriage and abortion rights to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland had been the only part of the UK where abortion rights remained illegal, and the vote was long delayed because many MPs believed any progressive changes had to be made by the Northern Irish government itself. Since that government has been in political deadlock for three years, however, Labour MPs have succeeded in pushing the vote forward in the British Parliament to the excitement of equality groups everywhere.
The new marriage amendment, put forth by Conon McGinn, will go into effect within three months if the Northern Irish government remains stalled. McGinn, who comes from Northern Ireland himself, reassured UK citizens that if the Northern Irish parliament isn’t functioning, “the LGBT community in Northern Ireland will know that Westminster will act to ensure equality and respect for all citizens, and finally give them the right to marry the person they love.”
The abortion amendment was introduced by MP Stella Creasy, who expressed her enthusiasm after the vote’s passage. “Thank you to everyone who today stood up for equality in Northern Ireland,” she said, “whether for same-sex marriage or abortion, today we have said everyone in the UK deserves to be treated as an equal. There’s a road to go yet but today is a big step forward.”
There is the condition, however, that the laws could be overturned by a future assembly. And to reiterate, this also only goes into effect if the Northern Irish parliament is still stalled come October 21.
The vote was welcomed in Northern Ireland by the centrist Alliance Party and moderate nationalist SDLP, though more conservative politicians were unsurprisingly skeptical.
H/T: The Guardian