Gerry Carroll MLA, PBP, will present over 20,700 petition signatures to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont tomorrow Tuesday 20th September.
Commenting on the petition, Gerry Carroll MLA said:
“These 20,000 signatures are just a small sample of the groundswell of support for equal marriage in NI. This year’s Pride also saw tens of thousands take to the street calling for equality, and it’s about time the Assembly represented public opinion on this issue and recognised the rights of the LGBT+ community.
“For too long our LGBT+ friends, family and comrades have suffered discrimination under the current outdated and backward law, which denies people here the same rights afforded to people in the rest of the UK. It’s about time that is rectified. In fact, it’s long overdue.’
‘I am delighted to present this petition, which will bring the voices of 20,000 people into the heart of the Assembly, where they are often ignored.”
The #EndTheVeto on equal marriage petition was started by The Gay Say earlier this year to challenge the undemocratic abuse of the “Petition of Concern” mechanism to block equal marriage legislation in Northern Ireland.
The ‘Petition of Concern’ mechanism was established to protect the rights of minorities in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement, but is being continually abused by the DUP to deny a fundamental right to the LGBT community in Northern Ireland.
Danny Toner, of The Gay Say, said:
“A huge amount of time and effort went into gathering the signatures so reaching the target of 20,000 was a great achievement. The amount of support and number of signatures only further highlights the urgent need for more progress on LGBT equality issues in Northern Ireland. People are growing increasingly frustrated by the ongoing failure to deliver equal civil rights for same-sex couples.
“Following the repeated failure of the Assembly to legislate for marriage equality we decided that it was time for action. This is an issue that is not going to go away and support is growing. In June 2016, market research company IPSOS Mori estimated support for marriage equality to be as high as 70% within the general population.
“I would like to ask everyone who can make it to Stormont tomorrow morning to come and show your support for marriage equality.”
Started only 7 months ago the campaign has already received massive amounts of local and international support with several high profile figures such as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Marriage Equality Referendum 2015 campaigner Panti Bliss, the LGBT rights social media giant STOP-Homophobia.com and ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ lead singer Holly Johnston voicing their support.
Speaking to The Gay Say at the weekend, human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell said:
“Congratulations on this magnificent petition. It reflects and reinforces the two-thirds northern Irish public support for same-sex marriage. By ignoring the majority will and blocking the right of LGBT couples to marry, the DUP is subverting democracy. The time has come for the DUP to end its four decades of opposition to LGBT equality.”
Four previous motions failed to reach a majority in favour of Marriage Equality in the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, even if any of these motions did achieve a majority in favour, the DUP had implemented the “Petition of Concern” veto prior to each vote to ensure the result was a foregone conclusion. This was also the case with vote 5 in November 2015, but on this occasion the mechanism was officially enacted to veto a majority of politicians who voted in favour of the legislation.
The demonstration will gather at the front gates of Stormont on Tuesday 20th September at 10am and will then walk to the steps. Gerry Carroll MLA will present the petition in the Assembly chamber at 10:30AM.