PBP Councillor for West Belfast Gerry Carroll has welcomed the Assembly’s vote in favour of Marriage Equality, but expressed “anger” that the DUP vetoed a change in the law.
“It’s good that politicians have finally acknowledged the views of the majority of people here, and voted to support marriage equality. Unfortunately, the DUP’s refusal to accept the growing consensus on the ground, has led them to veto any change in the law. This is extremely disappointing for anyone who wants to see progress for LGBT rights here.”
“I would, however, urge campaigners not to be too disheartened” said Cllr Carroll.
“In four previous debates, the Assembly has rejected Marriage Equality. And despite the DUP’s petition of concern, this is the first time it has ever actually been voted through. This is a significant shift, and testament to the thousands of young people who have taken to the streets of Belfast over the last few months. We’ve had an incredible and diverse movement for change; one that has rocked Stormont to its foundation.”
“We know the protests have had an impact when we see people like Mike Nesbitt, who previously voted against marriage equality, abstain this time around. And other MLA’s such as Alliance’s Trevor Lunn, have switched from being hostile to supporting Marriage Equality.”
“It’s clear that protests are shifting the politicians. If we keep up the pressure we can force their hand further. Over the coming weeks we’ll need more demonstrations if we are to expose the likes of the DUP. We need to show them that the demand for Marriage Equality isn’t going away.”
“In November and December, two legal challenges to the ban on same-sex marriages will be heard in courts in Belfast. To coincide with these appeals we should aim for another mass demonstration, like the one in July which drew some 20,000 people onto the streets.”
“History will not be kind to those who stand in the way of marriage equality. It’s time for us to show this once again, by taking to the streets of Belfast to protest. The winds of change are behind us on this; if we keep up the pressure we can force the politicians’ hands further.”