Green Party leader Steven Agnew has commented on Arlene Foster’s recent statements about continuing to use the Petition of Concern device to block marriage equality legislation and motions introduced in the NI Assembly.
It is an open secret that there are a number of DUP MLAs who support marriage equality. There has been a polite acceptance in Stormont, and among some campaigners, that they must adhere to their party whip.
However, given Arlene Foster’s recent assertion that she will block any attempt to legislate to allow same sex couples to marry, this is no longer tenable.
Since I first introduced the issue of marriage equality to the Assembly in 2012, we have been through five votes where more liberal DUP MLAs have had their own views trampled over by their party leadership.
In the meantime, the rights of our LGBT community are denied and the views of 70% of the people of Northern Ireland are ignored.
This is set to continue for at least another five years unless those MLAs speak up.
I am therefore calling on DUP MLAs to show courage, to be true to themselves, to risk alienating their family, friends and colleagues, and to “come out” in favour of marriage equality. Their party conference this weekend provides them with the perfect platform at which to do so.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.