Alliance Party to vote on gay marriage policy
By Martina Purdy
9 August 2012 Last updated at 06:01
Senior Alliance Party members are to vote next month on whether to adopt a new policy in favour of legalising gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
The party’s ruling council will debate a motion which proposes to back same-sex marriage, as long as safeguards exist for churches opposed to it.
While Stormont has no plans for such legislation, local parties have been formulating policies on the issue.
The DUP is opposed to any change in the law, while Sinn Fein is in favour.
After months of consultation with its membership, Alliance’s ruling council, which involves elected representatives, will be asked to vote on 1 September.
South Belfast assembly member Anna Lo said she believed the policy would be passed, as it made it clear that churches must not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
“It is a divisive issue in Northern Ireland, but as a party founded on equality, I think we should support equality for all,” she said.
“After all, we fully supported civil partnerships a few years back.”
Westminster is consulting on whether to allow gay couples in England and Wales to marry, while in Scotland the SNP government has announced plans to bring forward a bill on the issue.