Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Council vote not synonymous with progress

The following are taken from the websites of two Northern Irish political parties:

First:

"We want to normalise our institutions and political arrangements to demonstrate that democratic standards apply and fairness and equality of opportunity is the right of all.

"We wants to strengthen our relationship within the United Kingdom.  Our representatives in Westminster dedicate themselves to involvement in the affairs of the Nation and in partnership with their Stormont colleagues maximise Northern Ireland’s contribution to the United Kingdom.  We will work to increase the respect and status of our region within the Union....

"We want the name of Northern Ireland to be synonymous with progress." 

Second:

"We recognise the value of culture, arts and leisure in encouraging economic growth as well as maximising quality of life for the people of Northern Ireland. Cultural identity is an important aspect of our make-up."

I'll give you no prizes for guesses that these are the two Unionist parties, first the DUP then the UUP.

Well this evening being synonymous with progress, maximising the quality of life for all people, normalising institutions to bring about fairness and equality of opportunity for all saw these two parties, along with the independents and Adam Harbinson the co-opted Alliance Councillor for Bangor West, all feel this meant voting down an equal marriage motion in the chamber.

As a result North Down's contribution was defeated as giving fairness of opportunity to all to get married. The DUP may want "the natural beauty and the friendly character of our people to be promoted to make Northern Ireland 'the place to visit'". However, they have shown once again that they don't really want it to be the place that the LGBT community in Northern Ireland can see the friendly character.

Of course I know of a number of North Down residents who want to have the option of same sex marriage. What would happen should we go to Scotland, England or Wales once they introduce same-sex marriage and have a ceremony there? Should we come back to Northern Ireland we would not be civil partner and civil partner, but husband and husband or wife and wife.

Of course the people here in Northern Ireland including one of our MLAs who during that debate last month said this was a Scottish issue are ignoring the fact that without recognition that Northern Ireland will not be recognising legal UK marriages if they carry on in mindless opposition. The Equality Minister Maria Millar at the weekend said that laws would be introduced that would prevent same-sex couples suing churches that refused to marry them. Of course civil marriage or allowing churches that want to would not be affected by this, indeed these were the areas that tonight's motion was actually outlaying.

Sadly the DUP or UUP cannot bring about normalisation of politics here while they continue to legislate for only one narrow world view of what should be allowed. While they continue to put up the blinkers and barriers to LGBT equality legislation and only pay lip service to anti-sectarian or anti-racist measures they are only going so far. Once against they show myopia about what equality actually entails.

Update meanwhile normalisation in Belfast means distributing a leaflet in Alliance Party colours over flags from the DUP.

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