Mr Varadkar (centre, in jeans) | Peter Morrison/Press Association | 17146
Attending Belfast Pride yesterday, Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it is “only a matter of time” until same sex marriage is legalised in Northern Ireland. Earlier, he attended a Gay Pride breakfast meeting at the Northern Whig bar in Belfast where he met gay members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, pictured, and others.
The DUP did not oppose Mr Varadkar’s attendence at the event, but a small group of Free Presbyterians staged a protest across the road.
Asked if he believed gay marriage would be introduced in the North, Mr Varadkar – who is openly gay – replied: “I do, I think it’s only a matter of time. Of course, the decision is for the Northern Ireland Assembly. But I am confident that like other western European countries they will make that decision in due course.”
Colin Robert Houston | Belfast Telegraph | 17143
Colin Robert Houston, a pastor and baggage handler, who offered to “cure” a homosexual colleague and complained about a pink tin of deodorant left on his work locker, lost his claim for unfair dismissal and religious belief discrimination.
The behaviour of the former UUP council candidate and preacher was revealed at an industrial tribunal he took against his employer at Belfast International Airport.
A bumper sticker bearing the slogan “I’m so gay I can’t even drive straight”, was stuck to his car. He told an openly gay colleague that there was a cure for gayness.
All of his claims were dismissed. The tribunal ruled that in view of all the complaints against him the temptation to end his contract “must have been overwhelming”.
July 1, 2017 | Belfast | Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters | 17130
Thousands of people marched in Belfast on Saturday to demand Northern Ireland join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalising same-sex marriage.
It is understood that resistance to gay marriage by the Democratic Unionist Party is one of the reasons why a power sharing administration for Northern Ireland has not so far been formed.
Opinion polls taken in Northern Ireland for some time show a majority are in favour of equal marriage.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through central Belfast waving rainbow flags and banners saying “Love is a Human Right.”
The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of gay marriage in a referendum in 2015.
The Scottish government has published a letter it received from Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster of the DUP, about its laws surrounding gay marriage.
The correspondence, signed by Arlene Foster, was sent in early September 2015 when she was finance minister in the Stormont executive.
In her letter to former Scottish Minister Mr Marco Biagi, Mrs Foster said she was “concerned” about Scottish government proposals over same sex marriage.
She said “neither of us would wish to place same-sex couples in an uncertain legal position”.
“In this instance, we can achieve legal certainty by restricting the definition of a ‘qualifying civil partnership’ so as to exclude civil partnerships which were entered into in Northern Ireland,” she said.
Writing in response, Mr Biagi said he had considered the issues but concluded that it would “not be appropriate to exclude civil partnerships registered in Northern Ireland from the order”.
Until the publication of this letter, Mrs Foster had been denying that it had existed.
Julian Simmons | UTV | 17085
The Belfast Telegraph has been speaking to long time Northern Ireland television personality Julian Simmons about being gay.
He remembers one occasion when he was the victim of a homophobic attack in Belfast.
“On one particular day I went down Bedford Street to cross at the back of City Hall into Donegall Place and I was standing at the traffic lights and a red courier van comes along and as it came along a window went down and this fella shouted out ‘Ye big fruit ye’ and spat. As he spat me the wind caught it and the spit landed on a woman six feet down the road, and of course everyone was looking, and I said ‘I’m so sorry about that’.”
Nobody, anywhere, should ever be subjected to homophobia. Not even people who work on television.
Mike Nesbitt | Belfast Telegraph | 17059
Northern Ireland Assemblyman Mike Nesbitt was opposed to gay marriage. Not any more, it appears.
Today he appeared on BBC local radio. When asked “should gay people be able to get married”, he replied, “Yes, they should.”
He admitted he had “caused hurt” by not supporting gay marriage sooner. “There is someone in my circle of acquaintances who does not live in this country because they are gay and will never come back again. That’s wrong. I don’t want a Northern Ireland where people feel although they are born here they can no longer live here because they are gay.”
Gay Activist challenges the Northern Ireland Assembly to get cracking and introduce gay marriage as soon as possible. It is a measure which is long overdue.
Following the latest assembly election in Northern Ireland, unionists have lost their majority at Stormont for the first time ever. Most significantly for gay people, the DUP fell short of the 30 seats it needed to trigger a controversial ‘petition of concern’.
That is the mechanism which gives them a veto over issues such as gay marriage.
The DUP have wielded petitions of concern as an effective veto on progressive legislation. The Northern Irish Assembly has repeatedly voted to legalise same-sex marriage, but the motions have always been blocked by the socially conservative DUP.
Marriage equality campaigners are now hopeful that Northern Ireland will soon join the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland by legalising same-sex marriage.
The seats won by the parties are now: DUP: 29, Sinn Féin: 28, SDLP: 12, UUP: 10, Alliance Party: 8, Green Party: 2, Traditional Unionist Voice: 1, Independent: 1
Andy Allen | Paul McErlane/Guardian | 17048
Andy Allen, who represents Belfast East, a former soldier who lost both his legs and most of his sight in a Taliban bomb attack in Afghanistan, has pledged that if re-elected to the Northern Ireland assembly he will support moves towards same-sex marriage equality.
due to the opposition of the Democratic Unionist party and many of Allen’s party colleagues, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where LGBT couples cannot get married.
“I was elected to the last assembly only in May and I was the only mainstream unionist to vote for same-sex marriage. Whenever I realised it was coming forward I spent a great deal of time talking to people on both sides of the argument, including the gay community. I reached out to individuals from that community as well as religious organisations and faiths who robustly argued against it. But I found myself coming to a view of ‘live and let live’,” Mr Allen told reporters.
The Christian bakers found to have unlawfully refused to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan are to press ahead with attempts to take their case to the Supreme Court. Lawyers for the McArthur family can now petition directly for a hearing in London after being formally refused leave to appeal by senior judges in Belfast.
Ashers’ Baking Company was also ordered to pay limited costs in the landmark legal dispute with customer Gareth Lee. Mr Lee had requested a cake depicting Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie below the motto ‘Support Gay Marriage’ for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia. Management at the bakery refunded his money for the order because the message went against their Christian faith. The family insist their problem was with the cake and not the customer.
A gay man has failed in an attempt to have his legal challenge to the ban in Northern Ireland on homosexual blood donations examined by the UK’s most senior judges. NI’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was lifted in September.
The Supreme Court refused the case because the matter was now “academic” and the application did not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance worthy of further consideration.
It brings to an end the four-year legal battle over blood donations from gay men in Northern Ireland.