Sunday, 24 May 2015

42 is a number I like #MarRef

When Roscommon - South Leitrim voted no to the Irish referendum on marriage equality I was a little upset that it wouldn't be unanimous. However, I was not too concerned as this was only by a margin of 1,029 votes and barely nibbled into the overall trend of the votes that were being announced.

I had to leave for a Eurovision party before the three Cork county seats declared, but in the end this left Roscommon - South Leitrim as the sole red mark on the map. The other forty-two constituencies had all by either a small (only 33 votes in Donegal South West) to a large (27,959 in Dublin South) margin voted yes. Overall  1,201,607 people voted Yes/Tá to 734,300 voting No/Níl 62.1% to 37.9%.

But as a gay Irish and British Douglas Adams fan I was most chuffed by the result of this question:

How many of the Irish constituencies voted Yes to marriage equality?


Yes the interconnectiveness of all things would have delighted Douglas with that result.

But the other question is where does that leave Northern Ireland, which is now the largest region of the British Isles that does not have equal marriage in any shape of form allowing people of the same-sex to marry?

Firstly I turn to the Northern Ireland Act, which recognises that the people of Northern Ireland can identify as British or Irish or both. This is key now to moving forward. Then I also note that

Section 75 and Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 came into force on the 01 January 2000 and placed a statutory obligation on public authorities in carrying out their various functions relating to Northern Ireland, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity –
  • between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
  • between men and women generally;
  • between persons with a disability and persons without; and
  • between persons with dependants and persons without.
In addition, without prejudice to this obligation, Public Authorities are also required to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, and racial group.
Bearing in mind that people can identify as Irish or British in order to promote equality of opportunity for those LGBT people who identify as either or both they must also have the same promotion of equality for their marriages as anyone else. We cannot carry on not recognising all GB or RoI marriages and downgrading them as civil partnerships, that is not promoting equality of opportunity on marital status, nor sexual orientation.

If unionism do not live up to their statutory obligations on this now there is legal case to take this higher to the UK Supreme Court or Europe.

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