Ulster Says No

DUP swims against the tide of history

The Democratic Unionist Party have hit out twice against bi and LGBT people’s rights in Northern Ireland this autumn. After pledging to block same-sex marriage again, they followed up with a threat to the Equality Commission that its powers would be rolled back as punishment for taking up the court case against the bakers at the centre of the ‘gay cake’ furore.

The cake story involved a bakers that refused to ice a cake with a pro-same-sex-marriage message. The courts found this to be discriminatory, but First Minister Arlene McCarthy was unhappy, telling the Stormont Assembly:

“I think that one of the most interesting parts of the court judgement is the way in which the court commented on the role of the Equality Commission in the whole case. I understand that the costs that the Equality Commission has run up to date are well in excess of £100,000.

“I have to ask this question: where is the balance in dealing with faith communities in Northern Ireland? I will be asking the Equality Commission to comment directly and give me some feedback on that.”

Sinn Fein sought to bring forward a public consultation on same-sex marriage, similar to those held in Scotland and in Wales & England. The DUP announced they would use their powers under the devolution settlement to block even a consultation process taking place.

Repeated attempts to bring same-sex marriage forward in the Assembly have been defeated in recent years, with the most recent getting a majority in the chamber but being blocked under the “petition of concern” powers that the DUP have under the constitution.