Government is put in place to govern, that we can all accept. However it is supposedly done on the basis of consent and democracy. Government is supposed to listen to the electorate (not just at ballot and election time) but throughout the duration of its time in office! In consequence, I would draw First Minister Arlene Foster’s attention to the Mori poll published in the Belfast Telegraph in June of this year, which shows that 70% of the electorate agrees with gay marriage. (Survey shows 70% support for same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland) – this poll clearly indicates that the electorate has moved on, and that gay marriage is acceptable. How much longer will the DUP continue to bury not just its head, but its whole body in the sand about what is a right – this is about equality and fairness. Dave McFarlane, Community Journalist
Attempts to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland are set to be thwarted for at least another five years after the Democratic Unionists insisted they would continue to block a
Judgment has been reserved in a landmark legal challenge to Northern Ireland’s ban on gay marriage
Two couples, Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kanem brought the case claiming the region’s prohibition on same sex marriage breached their human rights.
Mr Justice O’Hara heard the high profile case in tandem with another action in which two men who wed in England want their marriage recognised in Northern Ireland.
The judge told Belfast High Court: “There are a lot of issues raised in this case and the other. I will give my judgment after Christmas.”
Both couples were, respectively, the first and second in the UK to enter into a civil partnership after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to make that option available in December 2005.
Legal proceedings have been taken against the Department of Finance and Personnel on grounds that the ban contravenes entitlements to marriage and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Outlining the department’s objections to the judicial review, barrister Tony McGleenan QC said the State had no “positive obligation” to permit gay marriage because civil partnerships met the minimum requirements set out under human rights legislation.
Mr McGleenan said: ” We say there has been no interference with the applicants’ Article eight rights.
“We say that because in this context all the applicants are civil partners they enjoy the rights and benefits that go with that. What they are lacking is the ability to call the relationship, marriage.
“There is no doubt that causes consternation and concern..
“But is it an interference with their Article eight rights? We say not.”
The lawyer said the issue has been “looked at exhaustively” with three rulings at Strasbourg, most recently in October.
“Strasbourg has spoken six weeks ago on this issue,” he added. “There is clear and consistent juris prudence.
“Article eight (of European Convention on Human Rights) does not give rise to a positive obligation to same sex marriage. Article 12 does not give rise to a positive obligation to same sex marriage and both of those taken together with Article 14 do not give rise to any issue of discrimination.”
Earlier this year about 20,000 campaigners marched through Belfast city centre demanding a change in the law.
However Northern Ireland’s devolved Stormont Assembly has repeatedly refused to legislate on the contentious issue.
Although the majority of MLAs voted in favour of introducing gay marriage when it was debated for a fifth time last month, the proposal fell because unionists who oppose the move deployed a controversial voting mechanism to effectively veto it.
Mr McGleenan claimed a court intervention could undermine devolution.
He said: “It is not a matter that is being ignored. It is live in the democratic process. The applicants may not be satisfied with the pace, outcomes or infrastructure but it cannot be deemed that it is not a live issue.”
Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin QC also addressed the court briefly.
Mr Larkin, Stormont’s chief legal advisor, said he wanted to “echo” the views of the department, deal with “devolution” issues and highlight the absence of any “wrongful act” – such as a refusal to marry from the registry office at Belfast City Hall.
On Thursday a barrister representing both couples argued that Northern Ireland was a “blot on the map” and that the ban marginalised gay people as “biological oddities”.
Throughout the hearing, Ms Close and Ms Sickles listened intently from the public gallery where they sat among a number of gay rights campaigners.
The male applicants were not in court.
Outside Ms Close said she felt it had been a “fair hearing”.
She said: “It has been an intense couple of days. We now need to wait.
“Our love is equal. It is not any less. It is equal.
“We are not here to look for a religious ceremony or a religious marriage; we are here for civil marriage and for our love to be represented as equal.”
Amnesty International has supported both couples throughout the legal process.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director who was present throughout the two-day hearing, said: “We look forward to new year weddings. We’re hopeful the judgment will allow many committed, loving couples in Northern Ireland the simple right to get married.
“It is shameful that these couples were forced to appeal to the courts to get equal treatment and that a minority of politicians have continued to block this progress, in defiance of public opinion.”
Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is for Stormont to decide on, the Attorney General told a court today.
John Larkin QC described it as an issue of “pure social policy” that should be left with the devolved administration.
His assessment came in proceedings brought by a gay couple whose marriage has no legal recognition in their native Northern Ireland.
The two men claim that being limited to civil partnership status within the region amounts to unlawful discrimination.
They are seeking a landmark declaration that their marriage remains fully constituted throughout the UK.
Granted anonymity in the case, the petitioner ‘X’ and his husband wed in London last year.
But under current laws they can only be classified as civil partners in Northern Ireland.
Legislation passed in the rest of the the UK and the Irish Republic allows same-sex couples to marry.
Last month Stormont voted in favour of the same change in law for the first time.
However, the Democratic Unionists blocked it by deploying a mechanism requiring the proposal to achieve a cross-community majority.
The petition, backed by gay rights group The Rainbow Project, has been taken against the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Government.
In first case of its kind counsel for X and his husband claimed their marriage has been “demeaned, devalued and undermined” by the situation.
The ban breaches rights to privacy and family life, religious freedom and entitlement to marry under the European Convention on Human Rights, it was contended.
X and his husband were able to wed in England following the introduction of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013.
As the case resumed at the High Court today, Mr Justice O’Hara asked if the same same legal position should apply throughout the UK.
The Attorney General replied: “No, it’s a matter of pure social policy … being a transferred matter it’s for the devolved administration and the Executive.”
Mr Larkin insisted that the 2013 Act was clear, irrespective of how long a couple spend married in the rest of the UK.
He added: “It doesn’t matter, this is a general provision under which every same-sex marriage is for the purpose of the law in Northern Ireland treated as a civil partnership.”
The case continues.
Read more: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/northern-ireland-news/gay-marriage-is-a-matter-for-stormont-1-7094948#ixzz3tBSPIjAh
17 November 2015
The first same-sex wedding has taken place in the Republic of Ireland – and a Northern Irish couple were among the first to be able to call each other “husband and husband”.
Tony and Darren Day, from County Antrim, had their wedding celebration in County Monaghan on Saturday. However, as same-sex marriage is not yet legalised – or recognised – in Northern Ireland, the short ceremony earlier today made their union official.
Tony and Darren had initially planned to have a civil partnership and had booked a hotel for 14th November. However, as time passed and – following a referendum – it became clear that the Republic of Ireland was set to introduce same-sex marriage, they became hopeful that they would actually be able to get married.
Darren, whose birth surname was Baird, admitted that it had been “a happy coincidence” that he and Tony were able to make history as one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Ireland, but the historical significance of the occasion mattered less than being able to be legally married. He said: “It’s been lovely to exchange our vows and to make it official, to finally be able to call each other husband and husband. Tony was joking that we would only be able to do that for 10 minutes until we went back over the [Irish] border [but] as far as we’re concerned, we’re married – we got married on this island.”
The ceremony on Saturday had no legal basis, but was a celebration of the couple’s love before 220 guests. Tony’s eight year old son, Parker, walked with them up the aisle. Darren said: “It was so sweet, and I’ve never sensed a feeling of love like that. Parker suggested holding our hands and walking us up the aisle, which was amazing for a child so young to have that idea.” Tony said “We held the wedding on Saturday and just tied up the legal bits today in a very small ceremony.”
Speaking to KaleidoScot, Tony was keen to explain how much the day meant to both of them. “We met about six and a half years ago online. We would never have thought what happened today would happen for us, we just always figured getting married would never be an option. We are delighted and slightly saddened at the same time. Delighted that we were able to do it, but saddened that when we crossed the border back into our home country it’s not recognised as a marriage.”
Asked how their marriage has been received back home in Northern Ireland, Tony said that most people have been positive. “Most of the comments we’ve seen have been very supportive”, he said. “Of course you are gonna get haters – you can’t please everybody all of the time. As our celebrant Eileen Morris said during our ceremony ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’”
Tony added that he believed marriage equality will eventually come to Northern Ireland. He told KaleidoScot: “I think eventually it’ll be recognised. It’s always just a matter of time for these things. General opinion is changing, we just need our main political party to try to catch up.”
The party he is referring to is the Democratic Unionist Party, who recently blocked a motion in support of same-sex marriage after a majority of assembly members had voted in favour of it.
John O’Doherty, from the Rainbow Project – a Northern Irish organisation promoting health and LGBTI rights – told KaleidoScot: “We at The Rainbow Project send our congratulations to Tony and Darren. Both have been long time supporters of ours. Tony and Darren are Married and should be recognised as such. Our campaign continues and hopefully it won’t be long until their marriage is recognised in Northern Ireland.”
A charismatic drag queen is the star of this documentary about the Republic’s gay marriage referendum, writes Andrew Johnston
The Queen of Ireland couldn’t have timed its Northern Ireland release better. The documentary about marriage equality in the Republic of Ireland arrives in the same week the DUP scuppered a majority Assembly vote to allow same-sex weddings in the north.
After watching this deeply affecting film, the anger, sadness and frustration felt by many at the party’s underhand use of a petition of concern will be intensified. Director Conor Horgan’s beautifully shot and edited movie follows Panti Bliss, the drag queen alter-ego of Co Mayo-born performer and activist Rory O’Neill, who somewhat inadvertently became the LGBT movement’s figurehead in the run-up to May’s marriage rights referendum. In her towering heels and extravagant, blonde wig, she is an imposing presence, yet O’Neill’s larger-than-life character is as persuasive as she is visually arresting. In his own words, Panti is a “giant cartoon woman”, but she is also an eloquent and incisive commentator, who counts the likes of Stephen Fry and Madonna among her legion of fans, and in 2014, received an Irish Person of the Year Award.
Her creator’s life has certainly been an eventful one. The Queen of Ireland takes us from O’Neill’s childhood in the small town of Ballinrobe, where he was, as he puts it, “the local gay”, through the perhaps inevitable art college years, to the development of his stage persona during hedonistic adventures in London and Tokyo. Eventually, O’Neill comes home to a relatively more progressive Ireland and embarks on a campaigning trail that ultimately leads to the Republic becoming the first country to approve same-sex marriage through a public vote. The Queen of Ireland isn’t just powerful because of the emotive subject matter; it has a rich dramatic arc, too. There is tragedy when O’Neill suffers a serious health setback, and when he invokes costly legal proceedings with contentious remarks made on RTE’s Saturday Night Show, a row that is dubbed “Pantigate”. But there is triumph when he returns to Ballinrobe to perform to a sold-out crowd in a marquee in a car park near his family home, and later, when the ‘Yes’ result is returned in the referendum. As a stand-up, Panti is smart and hilarious, albeit one you might not take your mother to see (and indeed, O’Neill tones down the swearing and explicit sexual references for the homecoming gig, attended by his elderly parents). Panti’s abrasive one-liners earn The Queen of Ireland its 15 certificate, but behind the facade, O’Neill reveals a complex personality. He is as humble and kind as his self-described “court jester” drag act is outrageous. It may be Horgan’s film, but it’s O’Neill and Panti’s show, and as narrator, the cross-dressing star steers the narrative to its startling denouement – Ireland’s legalising of gay marriage. To see same-sex partners celebrating in streets where 22 years previously homosexuality had been punishable by prison delivers an emotional punch on a par with any feel-good flick. If you’d pitched this tale to a Hollywood producer in the early Nineties, you might well have been laughed out of the room. The realities of being a gay man or woman in Ireland in the Seventies and Eighties are well covered through extensive interviews and newsreel footage, and it’s heartening to see how far Irish society has come, though for audiences in the north, it will be dispiriting to be reminded how far we are lagging behind. The Queen of Ireland deserves to be seen by everyone, be they gay, straight, male, female, young or old. In fact, this important piece of work should be shown in schools – and maybe even in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Jeffrey Donaldson was speaking after the pop superstar said it was time for local politicians to “enter the 21st century” in relation to same-sex marriage.
The Rocket Man singer also said that legislation would “sail in” if put to a public vote. But Mr Donaldson hit back and said it was up to the Executive to decide what was best for Ulster.
“Elton John is entitled to his opinion, but the reality is that we have a mandate to govern and we have to make decisions based on what we believe is best for Northern Ireland,” he added.
“The devolution settlement respects that degree of autonomy and therefore these matters should be decided at Stormont, not elsewhere.”
Northern Ireland politicians voted on same-sex marriage for the fifth time on Monday, with a majority of MLAs voting in favour for the first time.
But there will be no change in the law after the DUP used a controversial petition of concern to scupper the move.
Speaking during the debate, Paul Givan, the DUP chair of the Justice Committee, categorically ruled out same-sex marriage.
He said: “For as long as our party has the ability to control things on the Executive, there will not be legislation.”
It means that Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK not to have legislated for same-sex marriage.
When asked about the issue yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Elton said: “If it can be voted for in southern Ireland by two to one, it’s not the public vote, it’s by the politicians – and the politicians need to get their act together and enter the 21st century.”
“I’m sure if there was a vote for the public, it would sail in, as it would in Australia.”
Upon confirming he would perform a gig here, Sir Elton added: “I’m not a politician, but I will speak out for rights as and when I can, and I’ll speak about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights as I’m an elderly gay citizen.”
John O’Doherty from the Rainbow Project, a LGBT support organisation, welcomed the veteran singer’s intervention, adding that the issue had received “international attention”.
“Poll after poll has shown that the majority of people in Northern Ireland support the introduction of equal marriage,” Mr O’Doherty said.
“The majority of our Assembly members have voted in support of equal marriage but, unfortunately, the leadership doesn’t exist within Stormont to achieve it at this time.”
The Alliance Party’s Trevor Lunn – who was once opposed to same-sex marriage but has since been persuaded that it is an equality and not a faith issue – said he agreed with Sir Elton that people were in favour.
“The opinion polls indicate that the public in Northern Ireland is ready for this,” he added.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said Sir Elton was “absolutely right that most people in Northern Ireland back same-sex marriage”.
He added: “Politicians who continue to block progress must wake up and realise the damage they are causing to gay people in Northern Ireland, as well as to our international reputation.”
On Monday next week, a court case will being brought by two residents of Northern Ireland who have been lawfully married in England but whose marriage is only recognised as a civil partnership here.
Then, in December, a second case will seek to overturn the ban on gay couples getting married here.
Same-sex couples fighting laws in own countries flock to Auckland to get married and have or adopt children.
Auckland is being seen as the “gay Vegas” and homosexual couples from around the world are coming here to get married and have children.
Many come from countries where a same-sex relationship is considered illegal – including Singapore, Malaysia and China – or nations such as Australia, where “commitment ceremonies” are popular but do not satisfy everyone.
Australians top the list of same-sex couples coming here to tie the knot, as their country does not recognise marriage between male or female couples.
Two stars of the television show My Kitchen Rules, Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton, got married in secret on Waiheke Island last year. They were among the 500 Australians who have married here since August 2013, when the law changed.
Couples from China, the United Kingdom and Singapore have also made the journey.
Over the same period, seven children were registered to foreign male couples through adoption and one, by birth, to a female couple from Singapore.
Gay bartender Stanley Chan, 29, who spoke to the Herald in Singapore, said Auckland was considered the “Las Vegas for gay, lesbians and transgenders”.
Las Vegas is a popular marriage destination because of the ease of registering marriages there.
Like 28 Singaporean couples already, Chan and his British-born partner will be coming to Auckland in December to wed.
“I see New Zealand as a gay paradise and on what I hope will be the happiest day of my life, I want to be able to go to a place where I can celebrate our love in the open,” he said.
“In Singapore, we have to live in a secret underground world because the silly laws make it impossible for me to even openly disclose that I’m gay.”
Under section 377a of the penal code of Singapore, a man who has sex with another man can be imprisoned for up to two years.
Last year, two Singaporeans became the first female couple to have their child born in New Zealand and registered to both of them as parents.
The couple also met the Herald in Singapore but changed their minds about being interviewed because they felt it could hurt their business and land them in trouble with the law.
However, they said the main reason they chose to have their child in New Zealand was so they could have a birth certificate that listed both of them as parents.
“In Singapore, he would have been registered as a son of a single parent and it would not have correctly reflected our situation,” the birth mother of the child said.
Social worker Yangfa Leow, 40, the executive director of Oogachaga, which counsels and supports LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) in Singapore, said legal adoption there was usually allowed only for married, opposite-sex couples and single women.
This has resulted in same-sex couples finding alternative ways to include children in their lives and commit to each other, such as going to countries such as New Zealand where these are legally recognised.
“I understand that New Zealand has legalised marriage for same-sex couples, which of course is the right thing to do in terms of ensuring equality for all,” Leow said.
Last year, Lonely Planet named New Zealand the second most gay-friendly place in the world, behind Copenhagen in Denmark.
Tourism New Zealand said it did not specifically target the gay and lesbian community, but promoted the country as a great destination for weddings and honeymoons for all travellers.
Between 30,000 and 45,000 honeymooners from overseas came to New Zealand each year, spending an estimated $160 million.
After the passing of the Marriage Amendment Act, Tourism NZ ran a campaign to show how easy it is for same-sex couples from Australia to marry in New Zealand.
“There was a very positive response from same-sex couples in Australia,” said Tourism NZ spokeswoman Deborah Gray.
She said visitors were not asked to identify their sexual orientation, so there was “no robust data” to gauge the value of gay tourists.
Brett O’Riley, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development chief executive, said the organisation was supporting several gay-friendly tourism operators who directly target the gay market.
“We understand after the gay marriage legislation passed that a number of couples did see New Zealand as a destination to say ‘I do’ and gain legal marriage status, where their home countries may not allow them similar rights.”
Gay marriages in NZ
(since August 2013)
• From Australia: 264
• From China: 32
• From the UK: 22
• From Singapore: 17
• From the US: 8
• From Malaysia: 8
• From the entire world: 411
• From Australia: 236
• From China: 34
• From the UK: 13
• From the US: 13
• From Singapore: 11
• From Hong Kong: 11
• From Thailand: 10
• From the entire world: 401
(source: Dept of Internal Affairs)
Lincoln Tan travelled to Singapore with the help of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
Two gay policemen tied the knot in Spain over the weekend and the whole world is celebrating with them.
The couple, who are being referred to as Chema and Jonathan by Spanish media, were married in Jerez de la Frontera on September 5 while dressed in their full police uniforms, in what many believe is a world first.
To mark the occasion, people all across the world have been uploading and sharing photos of the adorable couple to social media.
In an interview with a Spanish radio station, Chema said that he and his hubby have lots of gay friends and allies in the police force.
“If it helps someone who is being bullied in school for their sexual orientation to see it as something normal, then that’s great,” he said. “It’s not something that should be hidden just because you belong to a particular institution.”
The guys were married at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and plan on road tripping from Seattle to San Diego for their honeymoon.
Scroll down to see photos from the wedding, and congrats to the happy couple!
h/t: Gay Star News
Catholics have a more liberal attitude towards gay marriage than Protestants – but are more conservative when it comes to euthanasia and abortion, a survey suggests.
YouGov questioned 863 Catholics and 1,707 Protestants in Great Britain – who strongly agreed with the statement “my faith is important to me” – on the three issues.
The results show that both groups are less accepting on the issues than the public as a whole.
Both same-sex marriage and euthanasia have been widely discussed within sections of the two churches recently.
Pope Francis is widely perceived to be a liberal influence on the Catholic Church – in 2013, when asked if there was ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican, he replied: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”
Last year meanwhile, the Church of England opposed legislation to legalise gay marriage in the UK.
More Catholics support gay marriage than Protestants
Source: YouGov Get the data
Same-sex marriage was made legal in the UK in March 2014, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
It remains illegal for the Church of England to carry out same-sex marriages.
Previous YouGov research found 38 per cent of the Church of England clergy said same-sex marriage was right while the majority, 51 per cent, said it was wrong.
Protestants are more likely than Catholics to support euthanasia
Source: YouGov Get the data
Both groups remain more conservative than the general population on voluntary euthanasia.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has previously said that it is a “profoundly Christian and moral thing” to allow people to “end their lives with dignity”.
An assisted dying bill is expected to be debated in Parliament on 11 September.
Former Crown Prosecution Service chief Sir Keir Starmer has said it is time for politicians to legalise assisted dying.
Catholics want more restrictions on abortion laws
Source: YouGov Get the data
Both Protestants and Catholics are more opposed to abortion than the general population.
While abortion is legal in Britain, it is illegal in Northern Ireland, where it remains a contentious issue.
Last month, a United Nations committee said Northern Ireland’s abortion laws were putting women’s lives at risk.
The report concluded by calling upon Northern Ireland’s authorities to amend the country’s laws on abortion “with a view to providing for additional exceptions to the legal ban on abortion, including in cases of rape, incest, and fata foetal abnormality”.
Full Story at Belfast Telegraph
Quite a whlle ago, Jim McAlister was on a BBC (NI) talk show ‘Nolan’ which had a number of threads including gay marriage; our reviewer’s analysis was as follow:
…You owe me a serious slug of good rum, mate. Watching an hour of of inter-Unionist wrangling is enough to make a man take to the quare stuff.