The letter that doesn’t exist has been released to the media!

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.

http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2017/06/20/news/scottish-government-publishes-arlene-foster-s-letter-on-gay-marriage-1061889/

Five a day the Belfast way

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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.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/utvs-julian-on-antigay-abuse-being-spat-at-in-street-and-why-his-search-for-mr-right-is-on-hold-35694230.html

Nesbitt changes his mind

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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.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/mike-nesbitt-i-caused-hurt-by-not-supporting-law-change-on-gay-marriage-but-i-do-now-35540053.html

DUP’s blocking of gay marriage hits the buffers after elections

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

http://leftfootforward.org/2017/03/northern-ireland-dup-loses-petition-of-concern-power-clearing-the-way-for-equal-marriage/

Its time for gay marriage to arrive in Northern Ireland

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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.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/27/ulster-unionist-election-pledge-support-gay-marriage

The cake is going to court again

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.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/ashers-bakery-to-take-gay-cake-case-to-supreme-court-1.2908784

NI gay blood ban legal case ends

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-38227218

Crumbs! The cake is going to appeal!

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WND | 16492ga

The Christian owners of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland say they are considering taking their case against the nation’s new mandate to promote homosexuality to the European Court of Human Rights.

Ashers Bakery was penalized by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland after its owners said they could not promote homosexuality on a cake demanded by a customer because it violated their faith. The bakery will now seek a change in the law to protect freedom of conscience, and is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

http://www.wnd.com/2016/11/gay-cake-case-looming-for-europes-highest-court/

Jeffrey wants action

Jeffrey Dudgeon, who fought to get homosexuality legalised in Northern Ireland, branded the Northern Ireland government a disgrace over its failure to grant pardons to gay men convicted of obsolete crimes.

Justice Minister Claire Sugden said her ministry would consider the matter.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/stormont-failure-over-gay-pardons-a-disgrace-35168076.html

The Great British Bake Off

A Northern Ireland bakery run by Christian owners has lost their appeal over their refusal to make a “gay cake”. An appeal court has upheld the original court’s decision that Ashers discriminated against a gay man, Gareth Lee.

The family-run firm refused to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” two years ago for Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, who had ordered a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the phrase “Support Gay Marriage” for a private function marking the International Day Against Homophobia. He paid £36.50 for the cake at Ashers’ Belfast city centre branch but was telephoned two days later and told the company could not make it for him.

Daniel McArthur, the company’s general manager, insisted Mr Lee’s sexuality was never an issue, rather the message he wanted the bakery to create.

Ashers appeal was supported by The Christian Institute.

http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/ashers-lose-appeal-over-gay-12069000