Assembly to be sidelined in rights debate?

In advance of what could be a heated debate next Monday when two Unionist MLA’s lay the motion the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 “be determined by the NI Assembly upon restoration”, Catriona Ruane clearly anticipates something of a parliamentary fist fight (a continuation of the Question Time ruck?)

“This motion from the DUP is clearly homophobic in intention and retrograde in nature because the outlawing of discrimination in good and services against people because of their sexual orientation should be a shared objective. The gay and lesbian community need legislation to protect their rights because in significant and important areas there do not enjoy the same legal protections as everyone else and this is totally unacceptable.

Well, one (wo)man’s homophobia is another man’s Christian values. Clearly Ruane is clearly not confident that the provisions would receive sufficient party support were it to fall to any future Stormont legislature to do the deal. In effect, Sinn Fein is backing Westminster’s plan to fast track this legislation in Northern Ireland well in advance of any similar legislation in Britain. Indeed it is not yet clear whether there is any serious intention to bring such far reaching provisions to the UK statute book.

This is perhaps one measure that will pass precisely because we don’t have a local democracy with or without teeth.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty