Northern Ireland politicians owe the LGBT community an apology for failing to deliver equality, Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan told an audience in Belfast City Hall at the start of LGBT Awareness Week.
He called on the incoming Executive to deliver the long-overdue Sexual Orientation Strategy and for parties to come together in the Assembly to pass marriage equality legislation.
Speaking on the eve of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:
On the Sexual Orientation Strategy
“The last Northern Ireland Executive made a commitment to the LGBT community to publish a Sexual Orientation Strategy and Action Plan.
“This strategy was to create a cross-departmental action plan to deliver joined up government to tackle inequality and discrimination. It should be a matter of deep embarrassment to all the parties involved in the last Executive that they failed to deliver on this.
“They owe you an apology and an explanation. But above all else, the incoming Executive owes you a Sexual Orientation Strategy and Action Plan to tackle homophobia and inequality in all its forms. This must be in the Programme for Government, with a fixed timeline for delivery.”
On Marriage Equality
“The good news is that, with the Isle of Man voting to legalise marriage equality, a Northern Ireland couple returning from getting married in England, can now enjoy their marital status for an extra minute while flying through Manx airspace. Then they will come back to earth with a bump when disembarking in Belfast to find that, hey presto, they are somehow no longer deemed married. This must change.
“With a clear majority of newly-elected MLAs in the Assembly now supporting marriage equality – at least 58 out of 108 – we repeat our call for Northern Ireland to join the rest of the UK and Ireland in legislating for equal marriage.
“To all those parties backing equal marriage, we say ‘thank you’ and make a plea for them to work together and with the LGBT community and the Love Equality campaign to unite behind a single, agreed Marriage Equality Bill.
“And to those MLAs who are still determined to oppose equality, we say: vote against it if you must, but please don’t used the petition of concern to prevent rights for a minority and to block the will of the people.”