Same-sex marriage campaigners hail Commons vote but ‘not fully celebrating’

Same-sex marriage campaigners in Northern Ireland have put full celebrations on hold after the latest Commons vote.

Further progress was made following Thursday’s Westminster division but the draft legislation has not yet become law, the Love Equality group said.

Amendments on the issue were approved by the House of Commons.

The Bill is expected to return to the House of Lords on Monday.

John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, part of the Love Equality coalition, said: “Equal marriage is on its way to Northern Ireland.

“This is a day for which we have long worked in the Love Equality campaign.

“We will not fully celebrate until this Bill finally becomes law, but we want to thank every MP who voted ‘yes’ today and every supporter who has helped us reach this point.”

Ciaran Moynagh, a lawyer who works with the campaign, said further progress had been made.

“The changes made to the amendments on same-sex marriage and abortion ensured that when they come into law they would create good and proper law.”

“The final draft of the Bill now must go back to the House of Lords and we will expect this will occur on Monday.

“I remain confident that the Bill shall pass and change is coming about in Northern Ireland.”

He said it was very reassuring to hear representatives of the Government confirming to the Speaker that the Government had no intention of pulling the Bill before it passed into law.

“Monday will be yet another milestone day in the journey for marriage equality,” he said.

Same-sex marriage is currently outlawed, even though civil partnerships are allowed.

Last week, Labour MP Conor McGinn moved an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill which was passed in the House of Commons.

It would mean the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland if the Stormont Executive is not restored by October 21 – provided a future assembly could overturn or amend the law.

Northern Ireland’s largest party, the DUP, believes marriage is only between a man and a woman and has used a peace process mechanism known as a petition of concern to prevent changes to the law from being passed at Stormont.