What you can do
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

Progress in Northern Ireland is well overdue

Exactly three years ago this week I came out to my family; it was the first time I’d ever looked my mum and dad in the eyes and told them that I was gay.

The pressure, anxiety and profound emotion that I felt then is something that I know many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people will be familiar with.

At the time I wrote about my experience and said that my hope was that a few weeks later when the Northern Ireland Assembly was due to debate - for the fifth time - on the issue of same-sex civil marriage equality, that we would see a sensible debate that put scaremongering and harmful rhetoric to one side and prioritised treating me and others like me as equal under the law.

Little did I know that the hard work of the Love Equality campaign would reach an important milestone and in that very debate we would secure, for the first time, a majority in favour of equal marriage in Northern Ireland’s devolved Assembly.

That vote was historic and a culmination of years of hard work from many people. It felt like we were witnesses to real progress.

But the motion failed to pass as it was vetoed by the DUP using a legislative mechanism called the petition of concern. That was crushing, especially given that new polling at the time had indicated that almost seven in every 10 people supported the move.

Regardless of this bitter blow, our campaign continued.

Public support for legalising same-sex civil marriage in Northern Ireland is at an all-time high'

Three years on and public support for legalising same-sex civil marriage in Northern Ireland is at an all-time high, as much as 76 per cent according to polling by Sky Data published earlier this year.

Time and time again thousands of people from across the province have marched and rallied in support of equal rights for their LGBT friends and family.

Only a few weeks ago business leaders added their collective voice to that cause by coming out in support of the Love Equality campaign.

The support for equality is clear, it’s loud and getting louder and it’s the prevailing view of most people in society, from Belfast to Newry and from Omagh to Coleraine.

The complication we now face however is the absence of a power-sharing Executive or a functioning Assembly in Northern Ireland.

We have been without devolution for over 600 days and so now, the focus of the Love Equality campaign has moved to Westminster.

Stonewall is supporting Love Equality’s call for immediate progress, acknowledging that with no functioning devolution, the UK Government needs to end discrimination against the LGBT community on this issue.

This week in Parliament, MPs Conor McGinn and Stella Creasy have put an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill that would enable progress.

Later this week, on Friday Conor McGinn’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) (Northern Ireland) Private Members Bill is due to have it second reading. If this were to become law, it would bring in same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The Love Equality campaign needs your help and support.'

For either of these moves to be successful, the Love Equality campaign needs your help and support.

Regardless of where you are in the UK, you can come out as allies to the LGBT community in Northern Ireland by supporting the Love Equality campaign.

You can use their online tool to write to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the UK Minister for Women and Equalities to call on them to take action.

The campaign for equal marriage in Northern Ireland has built and maintained momentum for over half a decade. We now need your help to ensure we don’t wait any longer for equality that is well overdue.