NI: Finance minister orders Stormont officials to draft same-sex marriage bill
Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has asked Stormont officials to begin drafting a same-sex marriage bill.
Mr Ó Muilleoir admitted there was “a little way to go” in terms of winning support for such legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly, but said he believed MLAs “will choose to legislate, rather than be forced to legislate on foot of an adverse judgment”.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where there is no legal provision for same-sex marriage, and the prohibition has been subject to a number of court cases, including an ongoing judicial review.
Mr Ó Muilleoir revealed his move in a written answer to a question from Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, who asked the Minister “when he plans to introduce a civil marriage equality bill”.
In his response, Mr Ó Muilleoir wrote: “I am committed to the concept of equal marriage and I want this Assembly to legislate for such marriage as soon as possible.
“The Member and I are on the same page in that regard, but we have a little way to go in terms of bringing other Members with us and securing the necessary support from the floor.
“I believe we will be able to do that during this mandate and that Members will choose to legislate, rather than be forced to legislate on foot of an adverse judgment.
“We must do the groundwork now, so that, as soon as the Executive and the Assembly signal their readiness, we are able to move swiftly toward introduction.
“I have, therefore, asked my officials to start working on a draft Bill and to initiate discussions with other interested Departments, given that the Bill may touch on matters that are not within my Department’s remit.”