July 9 (UPI) — Members of parliament voted Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
British lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 383-73 to permit same-sex marriage, which will change the law, effective by Oct. 21, unless the Northern Irish government, which collapsed in 2017, has been re-established by that time and repeals the measure.
Labor MP Conor McGinn, an advocate for marriage equality, who championed the amendment, thanked the Love Equality campaign for making it possible.
“Having been let down so many times before, LGBT people in Northern Ireland can now look forward to enjoying the same rights as everyone else in the rest of the UK and on the island of Ireland,” McGinn tweeted. “I hope to see the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly restored and working,” by Oct. 21 “so that they can take the decision to introduce equal marriage.”
But if it “isn’t functioning by then,” McGinn added, “the LGBT community in Northern Ireland now know that Westminster will act to ensure equality and respect for all citizens, and finally give them the right to marry the person they love.”
Lawmakers also voted 332-99 soon afterward to extend access to abortion in Northern Ireland through an amendment by Labor MP Stella Creasy.
Extension of both of these rights to Northern Ireland makes the country fall in line with the rest of the region.
The Republic of Ireland to the south legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and legalized abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy last year.
“Thank you for everyone who today stood up for equality in Northern Ireland — whether for same-sex marriage or abortion, today we have said everyone in the UK deserves to be treated as an equal,” Creasy tweeted. “There’s a road to go yet but today a big step forward.”
The changes were made through amendments to a government bill also tied to budgets and elections for the devolved assembly. The MPs said the government’s argument that only the devolved Northern Irish government could make the changes was defunct because of it’s political deadlock since 2017.