SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has welcomed support for an amendment to the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill requiring the Secretary of State to bring forward Marriage Equality legislation by October if an Executive cannot be formed.
MPs today backed amendments which require the government to liberalise abortion and extend same-sex marriage to the North of Ireland if devolution is not restored.
It was part of a Commons debate aimed at keeping the North of Ireland running in the absence of devolved government.
Its main purpose is to extend the government’s legal power to delay a fresh Stormont election.
MPs have tabled a series of other amendments.
Said the Foyle MLA: “Today is a good day for Northern Ireland and for our LGBT+ community.
“After decades of discrimination, intolerance and abuse, often at the hands of the state, we have at last taken a step toward recognising the love of LGBT+ people as equal to that of anyone else.
“This is a watershed moment.
“It is a matter of profound regret for me as an MLA and as a Party Leader that we haven’t yet been able to deliver marriage equality in an inclusive, powersharing Executive.
“I am delighted, however, that we now have an equality backstop that will ensure the rights of LGBT+ people are delivered either here or at Westminster.
“I want to place on record my sincere thanks to Conor McGinn for the immense amount of work he has undertaken to make this happen.
“We have been working with Conor on this issue for some time and it’s incredible to see a result.
“We know that the discrimination faced by members of the LGBT+ community doesn’t begin and end at Marriage.
“The SDLP will continue to press for stronger laws to protect children from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in our schools.
“We’ll continue to campaign for equal access to healthcare including drugs and treatments that will save lives and improve quality of life and we’ll continue to support our trans community in the pursuit of gender recognition legislation that meets their needs.
“But for today, this is a well deserved win for our LGBT+ community,” added the SDLP leader.